Monday, February 22, 2010


The Boston Globe reports that "Brandeis University unveiled a series of cost-cutting proposals this afternoon that would eliminate about two dozen faculty positions, several undergraduate majors and graduate programs, and more than a dozen university-sponsored doctoral spots."

The proposals include "phasing out graduate degrees in anthropology, theater design and cultural production," and undergrads "will no longer be able to major in Italian studies and Hebrew, or minor in Yiddish, East European Jewish culture, and Internet studies."

So here's my question. If you knew that those jobs could be saved, and those academic programs kept intact, through the sale of a small number of artworks owned by the University, would you do it? Or is it more important that every single one of those works stays at Brandeis (rather than, say, another museum in Boston)? As I've said many times before (e.g.), what the "no deaccessioning for operating costs" rule does is prevent us from having to face those questions. It keeps us from having to think about the real-world costs of not selling. So again, it may be true that it's more important to have that 220th Eakins in storage than it is to have an anthropology department. But it seems to me that conclusion should have to be argued for, and not just assumed. (Brandeis philosophy professor -- and chair of the Future of the Rose Committee -- Jerry Samet made a similar point here.)