Letter Re: The Budget Cuts at the University at Albany

November 29, 2010
Open Letter to :
George Philip, President
University at Albany-SUNY

Dear President Philip,

In April 2007 I visited the University at Albany, extremely happy to have been invited by
Professor David Wills to participate in a conference organized around my work. I had
the distinct impression that the university was an institution focused on intelligence and
culture, a place open toward the future, thriving on new initiatives. I encountered very
high quality faculty and graduate students and found the sciences of thinking
represented there to be strong and alive. I had the feeling of excitement experienced by
every scholar or student of knowledge who is able to work with an engaged and
motivated group of like minds.

One can judge the future of a country by the space that it provides for the Humanities.
The warm welcome I received from the New York State Writers Institute, added to the
intellectual atmosphere of the programs in French, Italian and Theatre, made me think
that SUNY-Albany was a privileged place for emerging research, and that it possessed,
in particular, the good political sense to watch over its interests. You cannot imagine
how stupefied and indignant I was to learn that that institution was about to mutilate
itself.

I don’t wish simply to be scandalized. I don’t want to believe that you are going, of your
own account, to destroy your own riches. I’ll allow myself only to ask you to stop the ill
advised process that will surely and irremediably weaken you. It is as if one were to cut
out one’s own tongue. Don’t do that.

In 1968 I founded the Université de Paris 8, which still remains an experimental jewel
within the French university system. I know full well that one has to struggle in order to
allow the proper values for insuring the worthy and dignified development of students to
flourish. They are your children, whom you must provide with the best opportunity for
succeeding in the world. And, as Aeschylus said, “blood once shed cannot return to the
veins”. Beware of doing something that is irreversible. I would be very sad to know that
the University at Albany had stifled its own breath. I want to believe, dear President
Philip, that you won’t make the wrong choice.

Hélène Cixous
Professor Emerita Paris 8 University
A.D. White Professor at large Cornell University
House playwright Théâtre du Soleil Paris
Writer, author of 70 volumes of fiction and theory
cc. Susan Phillips, Provost
Edelgard Wulfert, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
David Wills, Professor, Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Barzakh Mageditorial