I am writing as a Keele Philosophy graduate twice over (BA 1998, MPhil Political Philosophy 2003) and as a former member of staff in PEAK from 2001-2005, as Administrator/Centre Manager. I was absolutely astonished to read of plans to close the Centre for Professional Ethics, and I am writing to ask that you reconsider this decision.
I still work in the HE field (my current role is Business Development Executive at Nottingham University Business School), and so I know how tough times are in our sector. But when I left Keele to come to Nottingham in 2009, Keele's strategy appeared to be to find niche areas of particular distinctiveness and strength that Keele could find, exploit, and take on a world-leading role. PEAK was held up as an example of this - a suite of highly-rated and distinctive Masters courses, a unique doctoral programme, and a highly-successful programme of knowledge transfer and entrepreneurial enterprise activities that was the subject of a HEFCE good practice case study. All this in spite of very little support from the university.
PEAK does tremendously important and valuable work. I have seen at first hand the transformative and empowering effect that the courses have on students - taking brilliant people and making them even more brilliant, giving them a new string to their bow which is of immense value to their employers, their colleagues, the NHS, and ultimately patients. Research Ethics Committees at NHS trusts and universities all over UK and Ireland are full of members trained by Keele staff. The impact and value of this is immense - we rely upon these people to allow good research, while safeguarding the safety and dignity of research participants.
You and I both know that none of this pays the bills. However, It is very disappointing that - yet again - Keele appears to be going down the road of closures, job losses, and cuts driven by central management, without any kind of involvement or consultation with those at the sharp end. If PEAK costs or income has become an issue, then why no informal discussions? Why is a Senate paper the first anyone outside Keele Hall hears about it? Why no requests for business plans? Why go straight to closure? Why are those whose vision and energy have built up PEAK from a small sideline of the old Department of Philosophy not to be given a chance to move it on to the next stage in its development?
I hope that you will reconsider, and that common sense will prevail.