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Archive for January 20th, 2010

The Illusion of Conversation

The sum of conversations, email exchanges, meetings, and everything else that has been recounted to me leaves me with one conclusion: Dean McGreevy does not truly value an “economics conversation.” This conclusion comes in spite of the fact that both publicly and privately, McGreevy’s line for several months has been to express his desire to “move the economics conversation forward on all fronts.” Of course, for a while this opinion was simply that of a disgruntled and somewhat radical alumnus. Now, via David Ruccio, I see that a retiring member of ECOP has made a similar charge against McGreevy in The Observer:

for the last few years of my career I have engaged in futile efforts to maintain contacts with colleagues in ECOE. I would have very much liked to take advantage of the many speakers they have brought in; but despite appeals to a coordinator of their speakers series, to Dean Roche and Dean McGreevy and to ECOE chairperson Richard Jensen, I have been unable to access sufficient information on their seminars and workshops…

I have pursued the issue repeatedly with Dean McGreevy, once heatedly in a reaction to a boast in The Observer last fall that “we are trying to create the best economic conversation we can have at Notre Dame.” Although he has not been forthcoming in explaining what is going on, he has apparently taken the stand that he cannot or will not do anything about it — other than dissolve ECOP. That members of ECOP, several of whom have taught economics in the College of Arts and Letters for over 40 years, cannot get information on upcoming seminars and workshops — in economics, in the College of Arts and Letters — strikes me as an egregious repudiation of academic civility and does not bode well for my colleagues who carry on.

Add this to the laundry list of evidence that the plan was never to have two departments with any sort of conversation. The plan, which originated way back in 1997, and whose execution started with the split in 2003, was to divide the department, marginalize the heterodox folks, continue to assail their credibility, and then remove them from the department entirely. The economics conversation going forward will be a very limited one if the Dean’s recommendation comes to pass. He certainly is aware of this, but doesn’t care- as I pointed out in my open letter to him, most students will not notice the difference. All the better if he doesn’t hold any public forum before submitting his recommendation- why allow doubt to be raised over a foregone conclusion? This whole process has been nothing but a sham; barring an unforeseen sea change, expect the academic council to carry out the long-prescribed marching orders, which will undoubtedly raise the department’s profile among it’s self-professed peer institutions. Isn’t that the purpose of academia?

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