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The Head of the School of Humanities, Jan Palmorski, summoned
me to his office without warning yesterday evening to inform me that
King's has decided to "divest of computational linguistics", and so my
position would be redundant as of September. This is an incredible
development. Since moving back to Philosophy from Computer Science in
September 2005 I have been Director of Graduate Studies. I was
responsible, together with David Papineau, for formulating the
Department's RAE 2008 submission. As you know, The Department was ranked
third nationally in this research exercise. My monograph on intensional
logic and my articles were a significant part of this submission. I was
also a member of both the RAE 2001 and the RAE 2008 Linguistics Panels.
I have two major books in press now (with Wiley Blackwell), due to
appear later this year. I have been invited to give a research course on
one of these books, devoted to the issue of linguistic nativism and
learning theory at the North American Summer School of Logic and
Language in June (University of Indiana at Bloomington), and an invited
plenary lecture on the book at the European Summer School of Logic and
Language in August (University of Copenhagen). In the Philosophy
Department I have been supervising students and giving seminars on
issues in logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and
cognitive science. I have also been teaching and convening an
undergraduate intercollated course on Neuroscience and Mind for the
Neuroscience Department at Guy's Campus, and I have been organizing a
proposal for an MSc Program in Cognitive Science across Philosophy,
Computer Science, Neuroscience, and The Institute of Psychology. My
research and teaching is, then, based in core areas of Philosophy, and
it is highly interdisciplinary.
In May 2009 I was offered a Chair, with tenure, with cross
appointment in the Computer Science Department and the Cognitive Science
Program, at the Hebrew University. For family reasons I decided to
remain at King's. Before turning down this offer, I spoke to my Head of
Department, David Papineau, on several occasions, informing him of the
offer and asking him if I was secure at King's, in light of the
announced budget cuts. He informed me that as far as he was concerned,
my position was safe. I also spoke to Jan Palmorski, inquiring about
possible conditions for early retirement in connection. When he
indicated what these were likely to be, I told him that they did not
meet my financial requirements, and I asked if either I or the
Department were in danger of cuts. He said that we were not, although
there would be a review of the School's faculty, and any decisions on
redundancy would be made on the basis of research productivity, teaching
activity, and administrative service. On the strength of these
assurances, I turned down the offer from the Hebrew University in July.
I now find myself threatened with redundancy six years before
scheduled retirement, with totally inadequate pension provisions, while
at the height of my research career. This is grossly unfair, and
violates statements often made by the Principal and other members of the
administration to the effect that excellence in research is King's
priority. This threat is also a serious miscarriage of justice, given my
level of productivity, and the fact that I was allowed to give up a very
attractive offer on the basis of assurances that have turned out to be
without foundation.
I would appreciate your help and support in this matter.
Shalom Lappin
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