LINGUIST List 4.817

Mon 11 Oct 1993

Disc: Harvard Linguistics

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , Harvard linguistics
  2. , Harvard linguistics cont. (long)

Message 1: Harvard linguistics

Date: Wed, 6 Oct 93 22:10:52 EDTHarvard linguistics
From: <>
Subject: Harvard linguistics

Late this afternoon it came to my attention that various stories about
Harvard linguistics were circulating over the net. I spoke with
Christoff Wolff, Dean of the Graduate School about this; he asked me
to post the following:

The FAS administration is NOT proposing to wipe out linguistics at
Harvard. They have appointed a faculty committee to consider the best
way to mobilize the widely dispersed resources in linguistics at
Harvard. The charge to the committee is to determine what form of
organization and focus will (a) best take advantage of existing
resources; and (b) sustain the educational program.
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Message 2: Harvard linguistics cont. (long)

Date: Thu, 7 Oct 93 23:52:55 -04Harvard linguistics cont. (long)
From: <>
Subject: Harvard linguistics cont. (long)

I would like to thank everyone who wrote with advice and support for us
here at Harvard. We've gotten so many responses that I don't think we'll
be able to send out individualized thank-you notes.

For those of you who expressed an interest in writing letters to the
Harvard administration, here are the relevant addresses:

Neil Rudenstine
President, Harvard University
Massachussetts Hall
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138

Jeremy Knowles
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University
University Hall
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138

We advise you to keep copies of your letters. Also, it would be really
wonderful if you could send us a copy of any responses you get, so that we can
compare the explanations they give you to the explanations they give us. Our
address is:

Harvard-Radcliffe Undergraduate Linguists' Society
Harvard University Linguistics Department
Grays Hall Basement
Cambridge, MA 02138

The following letter was our first official notice of Harvard's plans for
the linguistics department.


TO: Faculty, Students and Staff of the Department of Linguistics

I should like to inform you that the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and
Sciences [Jeremy Knowles] has decided to appoint an Advisory Committee to
recommend to him how instruction in Linguistics should, in the future, be
shaped. Successive internal review committees and external visiting
committees have identified a multiplicity of problems, and the Dean has
viewed the situation with increasing concern over the past several years.
the fundamental interdisciplinary nature of Linguistics suuggests that an
instructional program in Linguistics could, like a number of other
academic programs at Harvard, be conducted under the auspices of a more
broadly-based faculty committee rather than of a small department. A
committee structure for Linguistics would not only preserve and protect
the identity of the discipline as such, but also provide a more effective
vehicle for its impact on the study of languages and literatures,
cognitive science, computer science, and the many disciplines involved in
the study of the human mind.

The Advisory Committee, which will be named in the early fall and which
will include the two tenured members of the Linguistics Department
(Professors Kuno and Watkins), will consider what committee structure
would be suitable to manage a systematic and coherent teaching program by
drawing on the considerable strength in Linguistics among the faculty in a
great variety of FAS departments (for example, in Classics, English,
Celtic, Romance Languages, German, Sanskrit, Slavic, Near Eastern
Languages and Civilizations, East Asian Languages and Civilizations,
Psychology, Anthropolgy, and Computer Science), and by seeking a more
effective way of putting the resources of Harvard's extensive linguistic
landscape in the service of our students' needs. Whatever structure is
going to be put in placem all currently enrolled graduate and
undergraduate students will be able to proceed towards their degrees in
the normal manner, and with normal support.


We in the department have very good reason to believe that this decision
is purely political. For example, Professor of Philosophy Warren Goldfarb,
who is chair of the abovementioned Advisory Committee, is a disciple of
Hillary Putnam (one of Noam Chomsky's sworn enemies), and is widely known
to hate the field of linguistics.

So once again, thank you all for having taken the time to send your
support and advice. Speaking personally, it has done much to restore my
hope that our administration will not be able to kill linguistics at Harvard.
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