[Please stop upvoting. I don't want to get a gold badge out of this...]

[Too late... is there a way to give a medal back?]

Dear community,

the VU University Amsterdam, my employer, is planning to shut down its pure math section and fire four tenured faculty members, including me. This is a very drastic step for a department to take, and sadly, this kind of thing is becoming more and more common (Rochester, the Schrödinger institute, Bangor, Utrecht (CS) come to mind). I will explain about our particular situation a bit more later on. I apologize for abusing MO in this way, but I think this is an issue that we as the mathematically active community must try to stop or else many of our departments will soon be run solely on a business-oriented basis and pure research will give way to an industry of fundraising and revenue generation, eventually rendering our universities' work irrelevant for society.

In our case, we have tried fighting this with creating pressure on all decision-taking levels of our university from the department to the president by rallying for support from mathematicians both offline and online in the hope that a public outcry will make an impression. We have involved the union to represent us and try to stop or delay the firings.

**Question:** what do you think are other good measures to fight something like that?

Apart from asking for your ideas, I would also like to ask you to consider supporting us in an online petition we have set up. If you do decide to support us, keep in mind that an anonymous signature isn't as helpful. Here is what is happening at our university (it's from the online petition):

As with most universities in the Netherlands, the VU University Amsterdam suffers from financial underfunding. All faculties and all departments at the VU are asked to take measures to deal with this problem. For the Department of Mathematics a committee of applied mathematicians has put forward a proposal to close the Geometry Section, which consists of six tenured positions and focuses on algebraic K theory, algebraic topology, and general/geometric topology. At the same time, some of the funds freed up by the abolition of the Geometry Section are to be used for the creation of two additional positions in the Analysis Section. This proposal has received the endorsement of the Dean of the Faculty of Sciences and of the Executive Board of the university. Two members of the Geometry Section will retire in the next two years and closure of the section will allow for termination of the other four tenured positions. Thus, the proposal's drastic measures will merely cut the total number of positions by two.

Of the four positions slated for termination, one is in general/geometric topology and has been held since 2001 by Jan Dijkstra. The other three people were appointed less than four years ago: Dietrich Notbohm, Rob de Jeu, and Tilman Bauer. This introduced algebraic K-theory and algebraic topology as new research subjects at the VU. In 2010, a research evaluation of all Dutch mathematics departments by an international committee took place. The committee welcomed these changes very much, stating that strong young people provided new impetus to the group in mainstream mathematics and offered promise for the future.

What are the consequences of the closure of the Geometry Section for the university? Algebra, algebraic topology, and general/geometric topology will vanish. Algebraic K-theory and general/geometric topology will cease to exist in the Netherlands, and only Utrecht will be left with research in algebraic topology. No pure mathematicians will be on the staff anymore. The university will give up central areas of mathematics and adopt a narrow research profile. The education of students offered at the VU will also become much narrower, which may lead to a drop in the yearly intake of students, and will certainly compromise the academic chances for VU graduates.

notvote to close this question and certainlywillsign the petition. – Andrew Stacey Apr 27 '11 at 20:38