Yesterday we made a statement about the redundancies in social anthropology at the University of Otago. Professor Richard Walter, Head of Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Otago, contacted us about it. We thought that publishing his email might extend a hopeful message to people in this difficult time, and he has given permission for his to do so. His email is reproduced below.
I am writing in response to an item in the ASAA/NZ blog in which you are cited in reference to the cuts to our programme. It is very gratifying to know that you and your staff are supporting us at Otago. Our departments have a long tradition of working together, and as we move through this very difficult period I am sure that we will be engaging even more as we think about our future programme.
The reduction in our social anthropology staff is going to require us to develop a much more integrated anthropology programme and our focus will be on building that programme over the next few years. This is a really critical time for us and I am worried that your quote in the ASAA/NZ blog is sending the message that we will struggle to offer a viable programme and suite of papers in the short term. In fact, we are offering exactly the same suite of papers next year as we offered this year. Furthermore, we are confident that we can continue to offer a viable programme into the future. It will not be easy for the next two years, but we are working well as a team and we have plans to develop a strong, holistic anthropology programme that will serve as a platform for growth. I hope that Victoria and Otago can continue our strong and supportive relationship. To that end I would like to emphasise the core strengths of our programme, our committed, hard-working staff members, and our ability and determination to build on those strengths. It is true that we have suffered a blow, but we are far from compromised in our ability to perform at an international level and it would be helpful to us if you could assist us in getting that message across.
PROFESSOR RICHARD WALTER • FRSNZ, FSA
Head of Department
Anthropology and Archaeology
UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO • PO BOX 56, DUNEDIN 9054, NEW ZEALAND