Dear Dr. Foskett,
I am writing to express my serious concern about the proposed closing of the Centre for Professional Ethics at Keele University. As an American public health ethicist who also has worked in university administration, I am very sympathetic to the difficult choices you are facing, and the pressures on you from forces outside of your university. Here in Massachusetts, we are constantly underfunded and are facing massive cuts in our state budgets that have strong effects on higher education.
However, I think that closing the Centre for Professional Ethics is a serious mistake, and that such an action will hurt not only the students, faculty and staff directly involved, but also your university, the British university system, and indeed the British government. Others have written to address in detail the excellent work coming out of the Centre, the effects it has on numerous fields, and its world-class status as a place for innovative work. I concur; I have worked with numerous scholars of the Centre, and it is clear that at every international conference (most recently the World Congress of Bioethics in Singapore in July 2010), Keele's name is familiar to everyone because of the work done by talented and well-trained researchers at the Centre.
However, the Centre is also a place where crucial ideas for solving major policy and political problems are developed. Especially in the light of the global financial crisis, in particular in light of out-of-countrol spending in health care, you (and we in the US) need the work of these people to help address the seeming-intractable problems that are endangering the lives and well-being of the British people. I know I speak in dramatic terms, but it is true that bold solutions need unfettered and brilliant thinkers, working together in a climate of intellectual cross-pollination. Keele is one of the few places where that happens.
I know you have to make cuts in your budget-- my appeal to you is that you look for some ways to keep the Centre intact. Talk to those at the Centre; enlist their input. They will help you come up with some solutions that administration may not have thought of. I have been in meetings where this has happened, and I am sure you have, too.
I appreciate your time and attention to this email, and I urge you to work with Centre staff to avoid its closure. I wish you good luck in navigating this fiscal crisis.
Catherine A. Womack
Professor of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy
Bridgewater State University