All ‘soft-money’ research positions are easy targets in times of
financial difficulty, as they are not protected by academic tenure.
In an announcement made by Richard Hodges, Director of the University
Museum of the University of Pennsylvania on the eve of the
Thanksgiving holiday, research positions in the University Museum have
been summarily eliminated, including all of MASCA, the Museum’s
Applied Science Center for Archaeology.
Letters from colleagues in the archaeological community to the current
Director of the Museum and to the President of Penn [addresses
provided below] could be very helpful in getting this decision
The larger issue: the mission of the UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA and THE UNIVERSITY MUSEUM — indeed all academic institutions — MUST be to contribute to the accumulation and preservation of knowledge, ESPECIALLY in hard times.
History: The role of MASCA over the years in contributing to
archaeological knowledge can be stressed in different ways: the
importance of the work of its research scientists to the scholarly
community [e.g., Patrick McGovern on ceramics & issues Mediterranean;
Naomi Miller on archaeo-botany and the interpretation of
archaeological materials in the ANE; Kathleen Ryan on the treatment of
animal skins and the making of parchment, cited by all Medievalists
working on mss. and codicology; and many more], as well as the
importance of the MASCA Newsletter, to the broader scientific
community at large. The importance of the CONTINUATION of that work
and of the Newsletter as a vehicle for the dissemination of the results of scientific analysis in archaeology can then be underscored as crucial to the field.
The very future of scientific study in archaeology is on the line, and
colleagues’ voices are needed to support its importance. It should be
noted that such programs can be sustained at relatively little cost,
at the same time as other Museum programs and outreach are sustained,
developed, and subject to cost-effective constraints, without wiping
out a whole domain of scholarly endeavour in which the University
Museum has played a pioneering role.
**Colleagues are also asked to pass this issue/message on to the
various lists to which you subscribe. In the past, a number of
threatened programs and positions have been flagged — for example, in
France and in Germany — and in some cases at least, outcry from the
scholarly community has proven effective in securing targeted
Many thanks to all of you who help with this urgent matter.