Cuts back home 
The trick about tenure, which protects faculty members from being let go when the budget gets lean, is that it doesn't apply at the level of academic programs. So a university can let several tenured faculty go at once by axing an entire academic unit such as a department. The technical term is retrenchment.

SUNY Albany, my home institution, is dropping the axe on French, Italian, Russian, Classics, and Theatre. No new students will be admitted to those majors, and operations will quickly wind down. The university community got an e-mail on Friday, announcing (among other cost cutting measures) a move to "suspend all new admissions to [the] five program areas." It did not say how faculty would be handled; lots of students take foreign language courses without majoring in one.

Today news of retrenchment at UAlbany has spread further. Coverage at Inside Higher Ed says:
Ten tenured faculty members in language programs were told Friday that they would have two years of employment in which to help current students finish their degrees, but that they would then be out of their jobs, according to several who were at the meeting. About 20 adjuncts and several others on the tenure track but not tenured are also at risk of losing their jobs, potentially even earlier, although details are not available.

IHE seems to just be talking about languages, so cuts in Theatre probably push the numbers higher.

John Protevi does a bit of philosophizing on the criteria by which programs were selected, arguing correctly that a program with few majors might still be of great value to the university. Students in other majors should be taking languages even if the aren't majoring in them.

I'm getting most of my news about it indirectly, and I don't have anything clever to add. Given the news of the day, however, I didn't want my previous glib post about UAlbany to be at the top of the front page of my blog.

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SUNY or later 
For logistical reasons relating to my sabbatical in Pittsburgh, I only today received my letter of appointment from SUNY central dated July 29 and effective Sept 1. It was marked CONFIDENTIAL, so the staff in Albany put the whole letter in another envelope and mailed it to me here.

There were sheets of cotton bond in the envelope. The first was simply congratulations from the SUNY Chancellor on my recent reappointment. The second was a duplicate copy which I was expected to sign and return. Ack!

[Insert caricature of me as the comic strip character Cathy, pulling my hair out]

One frantic phone call later: The acceptance letter is just a formality. I do need to sign and return it, but it is not time sensitive. The paperwork with a deadline was the payroll form I signed back in August. Whew!

A small footnote: My institution is officially the University at Albany, State University of New York. This is often shortened to UAlbany. Nevertheless, people that I meet when I travel inevitably write it down as SUNY Albany. It has been my habit to correct them.

Looking at today's letter, the Chancellor's letterhead has a list of all the SUNY campuses in fine print at the bottom. "University at Albany" is first on the list. However, the typed part of the letter, where it is addressed to me, is directed to the "State University of New York at Albany." If SUNY central can't keep it straight, then perhaps I shouldn't bother either!

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Happy fifth blogiversary!  
Being in Pittsburgh has been productive in many ways - although the initial surge of blogging, consisting mostly of meandering thoughts about Bernard Suits, has subsided. Now that the whole cadre of fellows and scholars are in residence, my blog-quality banter is mostly used up face-to-face.

Today marks the end of this blog's year five. There are (just prior to this one) 203 entries comprising 101,098 words. Of those, 32 entries and 17,348 words were added within the last year. A healthy output, I think, although a year-over-year drop off.

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All F null 
Too often among logical empiricists and their descendants, schematic laws of nature are given to be of the form 'All Fs are Gs' and schematic inductive inference is given as 'This F is G. Therefore, most Fs are Gs'.

A natural complaint about this approach is that actual candidate laws and actual inferences in science rarely if ever take those forms. Philosophical proposals about laws and induction are frustrating, because disputes surrounding them turn in some occult but inextricable ways on the toy representation.

They are cast like sentences and figures of inference in Aristotelean logic, and so bring with them a the whole scholastic sideshow. This is odd, because the the logical empiricists were acutely aware of the limitations of the old logic.

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Puerto Rico and the Suits payoff 
In this post, I consider the game Puerto Rico as a counterexample to Bernard Suits' definition of game. This, finally, is the example that got me started blogging on the subject in the first place. For previous posts, see here, here, and here.

In the last couple of posts, I've been considering Suits' requirement that a game have a prelusory goal - an objective that can be specified independently of the rules of the game.
Read More...

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