Upcoming talk: Frost-Arnold on "analytic philosophy" 
Gregory Frost-Arnold will be visiting us on Friday to deliver a colloquium entitled "When, How, and Why Did People Begin Classifying Themselves as 'Analytic Philosophers'?" It promises to be a cool smoothie of philosophical content and history of ideas, garnished with whatever plays the role of fresh fruit in this metaphor.

For anyone who will be in the Albany region and who is reading this before it has already happened, here's the haps:

Friday, November 2
3:30-5:30 PM
University at Albany, Humanities 290

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Dead letters, arise! 
Our university e-mail is now being contracted out to Microsoft. For no sensible reason, the changeover was made in the middle of the semester. It should have made no difference to me, since I don't actually use the UA mail service. I do have an @albany address, but it forwards elsewhere.

Yet... About a week ago, the forwarding instruction was lost. E-mail to my @fecundity address was still getting through, so I didn't notice a change. Messages sent to @albany just piled up unanswered on the Microsoft server. I discovered this yesterday. Although there is no straightforward way to get the actual messages from the Outlook account onto my computer, I think I've responded to all of them appropriately. And I've given the system a suitable purgative, which should have e-mail forwarding as before.

For anyone who didn't get a response or who got a delayed response because of this - Sorry!

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Metaphysics grad conference 
The UAlbany philosophy grad students have announced the theme and date for this year's grad philosophy conference. This is their 4th annual conference.

These conferences are pretty much entirely student organized, and they have worked well. The students (both ours and the ones who come to give papers) seem to get a lot out of it. I have attended most of the papers in past years and plan to do so again. It's a good way to spend a day.

The keynote this year will be Ted Sider (NYU). The CFP is below the fold.

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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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