REINSTATE JIM NEWELL TO HIS JOB AS PROFESSOR OF POLITICS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SALFORD!

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Professor Jim Newell was recently dismissed by the University of Salford, having worked there since 1991.

It is no exaggeration to state that Professor Newell is the most prominent UK scholar in Italian politics: in many respects, with his work he has brought this discipline to the UK. For this reason, as the Executive Committee of the Italian Politics Specialist Group of the UK’s Political Studies Association, we were deeply surprised and dismayed by this decision and are petitioning for his reinstatement.

Since the 1990s Professor Newell has organised more than 30 international conferences, events and workshops on a wide range of topics, from changing representative politics to the role of organised crime, to populism and corruption. His academic production is truly impressive: over the last 25 years he has completed 5 monographs (two are forthcoming), 11 edited volumes, 44 journal articles and 48 book chapters. In addition, he is the founding editor of Contemporary Italian Politics, has written articles for the Guardian, has appeared on BBC News, and has contributed to internationally read blogs, such as the Conversation.

The decision to dismiss Professor Newell has been justified by Salford University on the basis of arbitrarily set targets concerning the capture of research funding, and what was regarded as Newell’s insufficient contribution to the University’s desire to strengthen its links with business. The dismissal of an internationally renowned scholar for these reasons speaks volumes about the level reached by processes of marketisation of higher education in the UK.

The duty of academics is to conduct good quality research and – importantly – teach and support their students. These are duties professor Newell has always taken very seriously throughout the years. There is no doubt that research grants can be useful to some, in some contexts; however, there are no guarantees that grant applications will be successful, especially now that all academics are constantly pressurised by their institutions to apply. Equally, not all research provides obvious and immediate ways for commercial exploitation, nor are academics trained to set up joint ventures with private corporations.

For all these reasons, we urge The University of Salford to reconsider their decision to dismiss Professor Newell, and think again about how this will impact negatively not only on him as an academic, but also on the University of Salford’s image and international reputation.


 



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