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<email@example.com> I think it is worth the time interested people sending email protest letters: below is my letter to the VC, followed by one of Liz Dimock calling for letters, with relevant email addresses. 1. It is with much regret that I have heard today of the closure by La Trobe University of the African Research Institute, the only such body in Australasia; a unique body with a wonderful track record of academic research, state and national coordination, and community outreach. I understand that this decision was taken without proper consultation or due and agreed process, and that the decision-makers in this instance neither informed the relevant academic staff in a timely manner nor consulted adequately with the Institute's diverse members and affiliates. It is to be deplored that this fine university is turning its back on such a long-standing, expert body relevant to research and teaching on Africa, one that is very important to Australia's changing needs with regard to its fast-growing African diaspora community (especially in Melbourne). The African Research Institute, the most successful such institute in the history of the study of Africa in Australia, is world renowned, and this short-sighted step robs Australians of its major scholarly focus on the continent. When I was invited to give a seminar paper to the the African Research Institute in 1987, it was a week after the President of South Africa's African National Congress, Oliver Tambo, spoke to a packed crowd of some 3,000 students and staff at La Trobe's great hall. Organised by Professor Dorward, Director of the Institute, this event symbolises the dynamism of the Institute, which continued up until the ill-fated decision to close its doors. I urge you and your officials to re-consider this move in the interests of scholarship and the university's mission to the diverse communities it is supposed to serve. *************************************** 2. Dear AFSAAP members, Please read below an open letter from Dr. Liz Dimock, an AFSAAP member of many years standing, regarding the closure of the African Research Institute at La Trobe University in Victoria. I encourage you to respond as outlined in Dr Dimock's letter, with the view that a strong response may have a positive outcome. Thank you. Regards, Graeme ------------ To all interested members and non-members of the African Research Institute As the seminar co-ordinator of the African Research Institute I have to inform you that the African Research Institute has been closed and the seminar program will not be functioning in 2007. This closure has happened under unfortunate circumstances. The Institute underwent a Review process a year ago, and Associate Professor Dorward, who has directed the Institute since its inception, received a letter from the Review Committee that made a number of recommendations, including an eighteen-month time-frame for the Institute to undertake various reforms of its operations in conjunction with the Head of School of Historical and European Studies. After a meeting of members of the Institute, a response was submitted to the Research and Graduate Studies Office (RGSO) Committee meeting of 24 February 2006, which outlined a series of measures directly addressing concerns raised by the Review Committee. There was no further reply and we believed that the eighteen month time-frame was operating. We have more recently discovered that the RGSO and the Academic Board made a decision during the second half of 2006 to close the Institute as from the end of 2006. The sequence indicates a serious breakdown in communication concerning the future of the Institute, and a lack of due process. This follows our other concern that the Review Convenor had been interested in interviewing only a small number of Institute members. We are puzzled as to the efficacy of the decision to close the Institute considering that the university has provided no funding for the Institute for a number of years except for office premises, electricity, and phone services. The closure of the Institute coincided with the retirement of Associate Professor David Dorward who has been a specialist in both historical and contemporary studies of Africa throughout his career, and in La Trobe University since the 1970s. There has been no replacement for his position. So, for the first time in more than thirty years, there will be no teaching of specific African History courses in the university curriculum, and the loss of specialist African expertise in the Development Studies degree course. We feel that this is a very serious situation. There are currently crises in Africa, (eg. Darfur, HIV Aids, Somalia, Zimbabwe) that have bearing on the well-being of millions of people, and have bearing on Australia also. There has been more African migration to Australia in the last fifteen years than at any previous time, mostly though not entirely coming into what the Department of Immigration and Citizenship calls the ˙˙Humanitarian and Refugee˙˙ program. The African Research Institute has been closely involved with research in this field, and there are postgraduate students in the History Program currently writing theses on the African diaspora. This is an important field of scholarship. The African Research Institute at La Trobe University is the only Institute of its kind in Australia and is linked internationally, through the internet, with other institutions across the world. Within Australia, the Institute has been associated with the African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific (AFSAAP) since 1978, when David Dorward and Tom Spear, both Historians in the university, founded AFSAAP. More recently, there have been research-based links with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and service providers to African communities, in relation to the needs of Africans settling in Victoria. If you have any thoughts about the closure of the Institute and the loss of teaching in African Studies, please contact me. If you have concerns about any of these issues, we should join together to make a further submission. If you feel able to write to someone about these concerns, this would be good as a first task. You could make a request that: A new appointment be made to replace David Dorward, not necessarily in the History Program, but within the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences The African Research Institute should be continued for the furtherance of interest in Africa and African Studies The further marginalization of African Studies must stop. Letters may be sent to: the Acting Vice-chancellor, Roger Parish firstname.lastname@example.org the Director, Research and Graduate Studies Office, Marian Obenchain,: email@example.com; the Dean, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor David de Vaus: D.firstname.lastname@example.org the Deputy Dean, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr Diane Kirkby: email@example.com Yours sincerely Liz Dimock ------------------------ Research Associate The former African Research Institute La Trobe University Bundoora 3086 Victoria ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dr. Graeme Counsel Secretary, African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific (AFSAAP) Web: http://www.ssn.flinders.edu.au/global/afsaap/ Ph: (03) 8344 8323 Fax (03) 9347 1257 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org