Since launching this blog over two years ago, I have been deeply humbled and flattered to find that I have a regular readership. I have a louder voice now than I have in the past, and I would be betraying much of what I believe in if I didn't use this voice to occasionally help out friends in need.
Everyone who goes to college or university needs to find that one professor with whom he or she can develop a profound understanding with...that one person who seems to get you, who has done it, and who seems to be in possession of some weird brain that is like your own, but much more developed. When I was in university, that professor was Julian Ammirante. I happen to know he reads this blog, so I'm probably embarrassing him in this post, but he'll just have to suck it up.
I had Julian in my 3rd year for a half-course in American Politics. In a school where post-modernism and elite-theory were the dominant discourses, Julian took several approaches, making sure we not only understood the aforementioned theories, but also in competing theories. This seems like it would be a no-brainer for a humanities course, but such a treatment was a rarity at Trent University.
Julian is a major reason that this blog exists, continues, and that I make sure I don't forget my political science academic roots. He was an intellectual inspiration for me at a time when I needed some intellectual guidance, and he's been a reliable friend when things I need one.
Julian's most recent position, a professorship for Laurentian University, took a turn for the ugly. The Laurentian politics department dismissed Julian from his position, but did so without following due-course, due-diligence, and (it has been argued, but I can't comment on) without just-cause. I know Julian well: he can rub a lot of people the wrong way, and I expect that Julian's unforgiving honesty only served to expedite whatever professional grudges his superiors might have had against him. Julian has gone head-to-head with some of the finest minds in the country, and its been my sad experience to learn that sometimes, the finest minds also have the thinnest skins.
I can't comment on specific instances that lead to his dismissal, but I know full well the kind of small-minded provincialism that infests the halls of the humanities academy. Self-righteous, sophomoric thinkers and researchers (who don't ever DO anything with what they think about) in the humanities have little patience for disagreement, and will (and have), at the drop of a hat, engage in an active campaign to discredit and embarrass dissenting opinion (again, I'll send you to my experience). It's this kind of behavior that makes it hard for humanities people like myself to convince the rest of my science-minded colleagues that we're an intellectual discipline worth pursuing.
It is, in short, the very worst aspect of a humanities education: parochialism.
Some of Julian's most recent students have organized (he taught them well!) a website in protest of the university's decision, and in support of Julian. It serves as a testament to not only his teaching ability, but his ability to inspire his students to enact positive change, and to defend what they believe to be just.
To my regular readers, this blog will probably not mean much, and a good number of you may have skipped this entry entirely. But please understand that Julian is a personal friend, a professional colleague, and an intellectual model to me, and I would be remiss were I not to use my slightly louder voice.
If any of my old Trent University friends come across this entry and has not yet signed the Letters of Support page, I ask you to do so now.
Thanks for your indulgence.
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