Published: 14th June, 2021
Dr Gerhard Wolf, Senior Lecturer in History and Director of Doctoral Studies in the School of Media, Arts and Humanities at the University of Sussex, resigns as University of Leicester’s external examiner in history, saying he is ‘disturbed’ by the executive board’s unwillingness to listen to criticism and consult meaningfully with staff. His full letter of resignation is below.
Dear Professor Canagarajah and Mr Dixon
I am an external examiner for the History Department at the University of Leicester.
I am writing to say that I am appalled by the recent events at Leicester, in particular the current behaviour of the university’s executive board.
I cannot understand how you can contemplate to endanger people’s livelihoods at the end of a global pandemic, of the very same people who helped Leicester and its student to get through the pandemic. Moreover, framing these redundancies as a contribution to achieving “excellence” is an insult to everybody affected and, in many cases, apparently a direct assault on academic freedom.
I am disturbed by your unwillingness to meaningfully consult with staff and by your apparent disregard for those who have already expressed opposition to your plans to make colleagues redundant. Worse still, this is apparently not the end of it with even more cuts planned.
I am impressed with the work of my colleagues at the History Department and would happily continue to work with them in the future if you change course. In the meantime, however, and in solidarity with them and all other colleagues at Leicester, I will be withdrawing as external examiner.
I urge you to immediately cease the present redundancy process and convene open discussions with campus unions.
In solidarity with everybody taking strike action today and all the people whose livelihoods you threaten,
Dr Gerhard Wolf
Director of Doctoral Studies, Department of History, School of Media, Arts and Humanities
University of Sussex