SEPTEMBER 12,2016 LETTER FROM CHANCELLOR SUBBASWAMY:
On September 1st, the MSP Executive Committee endorsed and forwarded a message from the incoming MSP president regarding the funding of the Labor Center, the home of graduate programs in labor studies in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The message, addressed to many recipients outside UMass, falsely claimed that the Center is under attack from the administration and asked recipients to send protests to the provost, dean, and chair of the Sociology Department (the Center’s administrative home). Since then, we have received several hundred messages, some of them containing quite personal attacks on the recipients, resulting in damage to the reputation of the university.
In the message pasted below from September 3rd, Dean John Hird responds to the false claims, and I forward it to you confirm the accuracy of his account and to offer my own commitment to the future of the Labor Center.
From: "John A. Hird" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Saturday, September 3, 2016 at 7:51 AM
To: SBS Faculty Listserv <email@example.com>, SBS Staff <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: supporting our Labor Center
Yesterday I began receiving numerous emails from outside the university expressing distress over reports that the UMass Amherst administration “has been cutting the Labor Center’s budget for many years” and plans “to eliminate funding for the Labor Center and Master’s degree program in Labor Studies.” Perhaps you have heard similar statements. I am writing to assure you of the administration’s support for the Labor Center. The narrative that the Center and its faculty are under attack is simply untrue.
As we begin a new academic year, the Labor Center’s future is very bright and its programs enjoy the full support of the Sociology department (in which it is housed), the College, and the central administration. The program’s faculty have developed a plan to grow enrollments in its programs, and Tom Juravich has agreed to serve as the Center’s Interim Director. There is no threat to the Center and I have great confidence that Tom and the Labor/Sociology faculty will be able to rebuild the residential program. One of the great strengths of the residential program is its placement record, and I’d encourage students interested in good careers involving economic justice, working people, and the labor movement to give this program a close look.
Although the residential MS program has struggled in recent years with falling enrollments, the limited-residency Master’s program (Union Leadership and Administration, taught winter and summer terms through CPE) has been thriving and is running a significant budget surplus. Last spring, the faculty collaborated with Michelle Budig, chair of Sociology, and me to develop a plan for rebuilding the residential program. Among other elements, that plan includes hiring a half-time staff member devoted to recruitment to the program, which we accomplished in May. The plan also includes bridge funding to support the residential program until enrollments rebound. The instructional support for the program is intact and now undergirded by the robust revenue from the limited residency program.
The Labor Center has a long, distinguished history and has graduated many students who have gone on to admirable careers. We continue to honor that history, the Center’s dedicated faculty, and its many proud alumni by working with the faculty to restore the success of all the Center’s programs.Best wishes, and enjoy the long, Labor Day weekend.
This blog is run and maintained exclusively by alumni of the Labor Center. Today we live all across the country, working in all parts of the Labor Movement.