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Dear Dr. Jackson:
I am astonished and dismayed by actions recently taken with respect to the Mathematics Department at the University of Rochester: to dismantle its graduate program and to reduce it to a mere service facility. The Department, although relatively small, is more distinguished and highly regarded than may be gleaned from NRC statistics. Our great Universities---the University of Rochester very much among them---are a source of pride to all Americans. And yet, the study of Mathematics (including graduate education, undergraduate concentration, and research) has aways been, and will always remain, an essential component to any entity purporting to be a University.
I recognize that your University may be experiencing severe financial difficulties. A closely related and more severe problem is that Americans, whether college educated or not, often lack the critical quantitative skills fostered by the study of mathematics. The proposed restructuring at the U of R may address the first problem (at great cost to the University), but exascerbates the second. You are sending to society a clear signal that mathematics (whose teaching may be relegated to hirelings) should be studied as a prerequisite to professional schools, or at best, as a minor complement to a more truly scholarly concentration. You will confirm the view, held by all too many college students, that mathematics need play no significant role in education.
Sheldon Lee Glashow
Mellon Professor of the Sciences
cc: Dr. Richard Aslin, Prof. Norman Stein