[-empyre-] Laura Borràs

Millie Niss men2 at columbia.edu
Sat Mar 7 17:29:34 EST 2009

I don't know Laura Borras but had certainly heard of her through her 
work with ELO and the E-poetry Conferences.  I spent some time  
yesterday Googling her and was able to verify for myself the breadth of 
her work and her many accomplishments.

 From the outside, it certainly does seem unreasonable to fire someone 
who was about to run a major conference at the University and who has 
brought in substantial grant money.  I saw a few comments on blogs 
saying "we don't know the whole story, maybe she deserves it" and while 
that occurred to me, it is not a major concern, and Giovanna's letter 
pretty much convinces me that this IS a case of injustice and that it is 
a good thing for the international e-poetry community to fight on her 

What DOES concern me is that thusfar (at least on lists I belong to) 
Laura herself has not been present and therefore we don't know what she 
wants done on her behalf.  We don't know what her own plans for fighting 
her dismissal and/or seeking another position are, and the last thing 
I'd want is to interfere with her efforts to find some kind of 
solution.  I have known other people who were summarily dismissed from 
academic positions when they were doing very well at getting grants and 
publications, and some of these people have been very much against a 
public outcry on their behalf because they felt it damaged their job 
hunt.  Others have been grateful.

I would feel much more comfortable if we had some way of knowing what 
Laura's preferences are.  I can understand that she might not want to be 
part of a public discussion here or elsewhere, but some of you know her 
personally and might be able to ascertain her wishes. It really is 
important to know what she wants before going too far.

Also, do Spanish Universities have a tenure system?  If so, did Laura 
have tenure?  Was she fired in a legal manner?  The situation is quite 
different and the protest needs to be different depending on whether she 
was the victim of a nasty but legal and commonplace kind of academic 
politics or whether she was illegally dismissed, or dismissed in a way 
which is atypical of the academic context she comes from.

(I have no Spanish experience but unfortunately I have seen very similar 
nastiness in the US, where departments fire someone who is successful 
out of jealousy, even when it causes the department to lose grant money.)


Giovanna di Rosario wrote:
> Hi everybody,
> first of all many thanks to Jason who suggested to discuss this 
> "incredible" issue here, and thanks also for inviting me.
> My name is Giovanna di Rosario I'm a PhD student at UOC, Universitat 
> Oberta de Catalunya, in Barcelona (Spain). I'm Italian and I arrived 
> at UOC last here to finish my PhD under the direction of Dr. Laura 
> Borràs. I  started my PhD at the University of Geneva, but I also 
> studied  and/or worked at the University of  Siena (Italy), Strasbourg 
> (France) and  Jyväskylä (Finland)  - I can say that I'm an European 
> researcher:-)
> I’m writing this post because as may many of you already know Dr. 
> Laura Borràs was fired from Universitat Obertat de Catalunya 2 weeks 
> ago, just  3 months before E-Poetry Festival which she was organising 
> (we carry on fighting for the cause!)  I know she feels embarrassed 
> and ashamed for this ordeal, but she shouldn’t because it’s not at all 
> her fault!
> The letter for her dismissal literally reads that the reason is “the 
> voluntary, evident and continued diminution of  work". Now for anyone 
> who knows Laura these reasons are preposterous  and  insulting to say 
> the very least. I would like to invite all the readers to take a few 
>  minutes to glance at her c.v. available on line and judge her value 
> and her devotion to her job by yourselves. 
>  http://www.uoc.edu/in3/hermeneia/CV/lborras_cv/lborras_cv.htm . 
> She has been working for UOC for over  10 years now. Around 5 years 
> ago, she won  the most competitive and prestigious scholarship in 
> Spain (it amounted roughly in 200.000€ there were only 2 eligible 
> candidates from UOC: Laura and another researcher) selfishlessly she 
> “invested” this money  at UOC , continuing her research , and by 
> creating  Hermeneia which has been directed  with passion and 
> enthusiasm, and in fact *Hermeneia* is one of the *only two* UOC’s 
> research groups recognized by the Catalonian Government           As 
> you are also probably aware she is a member of ELO Literary Advisory 
> Board, and she was selected as one of the editors for ELC vol. II.  
> Then there are all the projects that Laura was able to find funding 
> for (the new Master on Literary Studies in the Digital Era which is 
> completely sponsored and the latest one was the GPS  project which 
> would have been presented at e-poetry and which gave Hermeneia around 
> 90.000€)   by Grup 62 the most prestigious Catalan editors.  Regarding 
> that all her students are under shock, they ask for explanations, and 
> they  want at least to be evaluated for the final course by Laura,  
> but the new direction (they have been very quickly in reorganizing her 
> work!) won’t allow that. Finally, in addition and as a curiosity Laura 
> is every week a guest in a Catalan tv show which highlights all major 
>  events happening around the world, so as you can see she is also 
>  very engaged at a cultural level here in Catalonia.
> Just 10 days before her dismissal  she was asked  by the Catalan 
> Minister for Universities  to be part of a panel for  the National 
> Research  Plan for in Catalonia which only proves  that she has always 
> worked hard and well! What is also very irritating is that she has 
> kept working as usual even if the last past months have been very 
> difficult for her due to personal reasons.
> I met Laura the first time  in 2006 and I’ve spent the last year 
> working here with her and I can say without any doubt that she is an 
> excellent researcher and  a great director, and all the support she 
> received from the Academic world proves that.
> I take the opportunity to thank all who sent  letters to our Rectora 
> and  all who signed the petition letter which was sent to UOC.
> Finally I think that what they did to Laura is outrageous and 
> unfounded, she is  a very talented researcher, a loved and esteemed 
> professor, a motivating director, a wonderful person and also a 
> beautiful and young woman, which in a Latin country and in academic 
> circles presents a large handicap and an object for jealousies.
> So here are the facts and I would like to thank the readers for have 
> taken these few minutes in reading this post. Please feel free to 
> express your views and feelings.
> Thanks again!
> Giovanna
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