From: Joseph Neisendorfer
Date: Thu, Apr 10, 2008 at 8:21 AM

Dear Ms. Brazil:

I support this petition to reverse the cuts in USQ mathematics and am filled with despair by low level of the USQ administration’s decision making process. It should give you pause that a mathematician of the high level of accomplishment of Terence Tao is leading this effort to restore some sense to academic priorities. You should listen to him.

As a former chairman of the University of Rochester mathematics department, I have seen this sort of thing before. Fortunately, it was reversed in our case, but not before much damage was done to the reputation of the university. In our case, the decision to cut the size of the mathematics department was universally condemned by mathematicians, physicists, chemists, economists, biologists, and other scholars. Significant condemnation came from members of mathematics and other departments at places like Harvard, Princeton, and MIT. The president of the American Physical Society was quoted as saying: “In one step, the President of the University of Rochester has succeeded in reducing it to the status of a second rate university.” A Nobel prize winner in physics said that he would never again recommend that a young person accept a position at our university.

In the calculus of such cuts, the administration seemed to have blinders on and to not have any idea of the collateral damage which their narrow minded decisions cause. In our case, the damage was done not only to students, but to other departments which the administration wished to thrive. And damage was done to the careers of the administrators who made the decisions. None of them ever got any other jobs.

The USQ administration has no conception of the needs of students and other disciplines for excellence in mathematics. The Chinese have a saying: “The fish rots from the head.”

Joseph Neisendorfer
Professor Emeritus of Mathematics
University of Rochester

Used with permission.