Open-Access Platforms Are Key to Research Libraries’ Core Mission

To the Editor:

Your article, “Elsevier Is Becoming a Data Company. Should Universities Be Wary?” (The Chronicle, August 7), evokes the existential questions for research libraries that members of the Association of Research Libraries routinely confront: What is the library’s role in the research enterprise, beyond purchasing and licensing content? How can libraries support scholarly workflow at all stages of the research life cycle, including preservation and stewardship of research outputs? A…

Don’t Absolve Postmodernism So Quickly

To the Editor:

In his recent article, “Stop Blaming Postmodernism for Post-Truth Politics” (The Chronicle Review, August 4), Andrew J. Perrin argues that detractors hold up a shallow caricature of postmodernism and an “exaggerated estimation of its effects.”

He provides a nice, if dense, description of the correct way to interpret postmodern theory and then accuses detractors of “pining for a space safe from power and contention.” He says we have to face up to the reality of radical complexi…

Purdue’s Move to Make Kaplan Exempt From Public-Records Access Raises Red Flags

To the Editor:

Good story on the mysterious animal new to science that Purdue and Kaplan have dredged from the bog (“Purdue Wins State Approval for Controversial Deal With Kaplan U.,The Chronicle, August 10). I think Bob Shireman is basically right, but it is hard to understand the internal hydraulics of this new entity. The biggest smell comes from the elimination of public-records access. It is hard to imagine a redder flag than information secrecy.

Alan Contreras
Eugene, Ore.

Basic Research Is Undermined by Pursuing Its Usefulness

To the Editor:

In his reflections on the new little book, The Usefulness of ‘Useless’ Knowledge, the president of Macalester College, Brian Rosenberg, draws a key lesson across the decades for the sciences (“What I’m Reading,The Chronicle, April 23). One cannot predict which discoveries in basic research will in time become the foundation for entirely new industries and immense economic growth. It would be foolish to try. Quantum physics would be an example, now the basis for about 30 percent …

Public Interest Not Served by Forced Secrecy in Presidential Searches

To the Editor:

Our research on executive search firm contracts underscores the issues raised in your recent article on the openness of presidential searches (“Secret Meetings and Aliases in a Presidential Search Rekindle Debate About Openness,The Chronicle, August 8). We’ve written about our findings for a series that The Chronicle published over the past year. These for-profit, often privately held, firms have all but taken over the searches for university presidents as well as other lesser …

A Better Way to Diversify an Academic Field

To the Editor:

Let me put the record straight: Many medievalists have been diversifying the field for years (“Medievalists, Recoiling From White Supremacy, Try to Diversify the Field,The Chronicle, July 16). Twenty-five years ago, when I was a graduate student at Cambridge and attending a seminar on early editions of Chaucer, the professor of Medieval and Renaissance studies asked me what my research area was about. I told him that I was a Bohemist (someone who studies Czech culture). “And wha…

One Person Alone Can’t Save an HBCU

To the Editor:

Those who believe that HBCUs need presidents as saviors are making a serious mistake. Black colleges need first and foremost competent boards of trustees, great provosts, outstanding deans and department chairs, and an active and engaged alumni network. This is the foundation upon which a talented CFO and development officer and finally a president should be added. Without a strong academic and financial base, no president can succeed at any university, HBCU or otherwise.

It is a …

Burying History and Judging Historical Figures by Current Standards Is Foolish

To the Editor:

Removing facts of history is as foolish as denying the importance of genes (“In Charlottesville, UVa Grapples With Its History and the Alt-Right,The Chronicle, July 30). Whatever their flaws, Jefferson and Lee are facts of history, and to judge them by current standards is fallacious presentism.  In its day, de Gobineau’s racial theory was thought as solidly scientific as climate-change theory is today. And to inflate slavery to the greatest cause of the Civil War and deflate st…

Misleading Headline on Essay Only Contributes to Partisan Divide

To The Editor:

I write this letter in an effort to challenge The Chronicle to more clearly think through its decision-making process when writing headlines, especially guest commentaries. Mr. Hartle’s guest commentary titled “Why Most Republicans Don’t Like Higher Education” (The Chronicle, July 19) concerned me and only served to further expand the partisan divide that the writer was actually trying to bridge.

My knowledge of this article came to me through a daily higher-education email blast …

Past Chairs of U. of Florida Board Praise Former Vice President

To The Editor:

We have each had the honor of serving as chair of the Board of Trustees for the University of Florida and are writing to respond to your recent article, “A Warning, a Crusade, and a Public Reckoning at the U. of Florida” (The Chronicle, July 21), mentioning Jamie Keith, our former vice president, general counsel, and university secretary.

Together we represent many years of board service and the opportunity to work closely with Jamie. She is a selfless leader of the highest integr…