LINGUIST List 14.1751

Sat Jun 21 2003

FYI: Proposed Closure of Linguistics at U of Durham

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. S J Hannahs, Proposed closure of Linguistics at Durham (UK)

Message 1: Proposed closure of Linguistics at Durham (UK)

Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 23:52:44 -0400
From: S J Hannahs <>
Subject: Proposed closure of Linguistics at Durham (UK)

Dear Colleagues,

The Department of Linguistics at the University of Durham has learned
this week that the management of the University is proposing to close
us down, a move that would terminate the teaching of Linguistics at
Durham. The last intake of undergraduate and graduate students is
planned to be October 2003, and all current undergraduate and graduate
students have already been informed of these intentions in writing.

The motivation for this shocking decision cannot be that we are
underperforming, since by any objective measure that can be applied to
a department in the UK we are highly successful. However, the
University has financial problems, and Linguistics, as a small
department, is an easy target. The only alternative to dismissal that
the management have come up with is to attempt to get another
institution to take on all existing faculty members in the department.
However, since they are not planning on releasing our undergraduate
"quota" the government funding that pays for much of higher education
in the UK it is unlikely that another institution would be interested.

	Facts about Linguistics at Durham

* Joseph Emonds is Emeritus Professor in Linguistics at Durham; the
current Chair is Anders Holmberg.

* In the most recent national assessment of research quality (the
"Research Assessment Exercise", 2001) we achieved a score of 5 (the
top score was 5*).

* In 2002 and 2003 we were rated 4th of the 29 linguistics departments
in the UK in the Times Higher Education survey of undergraduate

* Our externally funded research income was recently enhanced by a
grant of 371,753 GBP to Anders Holmberg, in collaboration with
colleagues at Cambridge.

* Despite its small size, the Department has more graduate students
than almost any department at Durham outside of the Social Sciences;
two-thirds of these are overseas students.

* Our graduate students are highly competitive internationally,
holding positions in linguistics and related disciplines at such
institutions as Jordan University of Science and Technology; Lund
University, Sweden; United Nations, USA; San Jos State University,
USA; University of Pittsburgh, USA; Bogazici University, Turkey; Mie
University, Japan; University of Sheffield; University of
Wolverhampton; University of Yazd, Iran; Speech, Artificial
Intelligence and Language Labs of Lernout & Hauspie, Austria; Ministry
of Defence and Aviation, Saudi Arabia. Additionally, two of our
former undergraduates are currently LinguistList editors.

* Department members are actively involved in supporting the
profession internationally, producing recent successful textbooks
(e.g. Davenport & Hannahs, Introducing Phonetics & Phonology;
Tallerman, Understanding Syntax), serving as journal editors and
members of editorial boards (Tallerman, Holmberg, Young-Scholten),
taking leading roles in linguistics organisations (Holmberg, current
president of GLOW), and acting on advisory committees (Hannahs,
LinguistList advisor).

Those who would like to voice an opinion about this decision should
send their letters to:

Vice Chancellor Prof. Sir Kenneth Calman, University of Durham, Old
Shire Hall, Old Elvet, DH1 3HP, United Kingdom. 
fax: 44+191-334-6250.

Chair of Linguistics, Anders Holmberg <>
fax 44+191-334-3001.

- ---------------------------------------------------

Dr S.J. Hannahs Senior Lecturer
 Department of Linguistics and English Language
 University of Durham, Elvet Riverside,
 Durham, DH1 3JT phone: +44 (0)191 334-3006
 United Kingdom fax: +44 (0)191 334-3001
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