Neo-vandalism at Millersville:
“Burn All The Books And Kill The Wise Men!”

I noticed with delight that a group of Chinese administrators recently spent time at Millersville to get an insight in the democratic workings of our society.
By contrast, I am sad to report an instance of Millersville administrators learning from the ancient emperor Ch'in shih-huang-ti (around 220 B.C.) who arranged a forceful campaign to wipe out any signs of previous culture in China by burning books and killing sages.
As professor at Millersville, and with the help of many students, I set up two websites: “Caribbean Coastal Studies” (started 1995) and “Environmental Hazards and Emergency Management”(1996). These were among the largest websites at Millersville, the first being designated one of MU’s few and select “Jewels”. These sites represent thousands of hours of work and thousands of dollars, from Millersville as well as from my students and myself personally .
In one foul swoop, all of this was taken off the MU Marauder Server, leaving hundreds of links worldwide which will result in a “File Not Found” message - a poor piece of public relations since each link carries Millersville’s electronic signature. The alleged reason for this unannounced drastic and traumatic action was that the Commonwealth is not allowed to provide this service to its retired professors. As if these sites are a personal item, instead of a public service!
The first-mentioned site was recognized as one of the few dealing with such important Caribbean issues as coastal management, marine pollution, coral reefs, beaches, harbors and ports, tourism and recreation, while the second included information on hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunami as well as -closer to home - issues of PA sewage sludge (“bio-solids”) and solid waste import, fires and fire-departments, copies of the LEMA (Lancaster County Emergency Management) newsletter, and much more.

It is frightening to realize this inherent weakness of the Internet. On the one hand, it allows immediate worldwide distribution of much needed data and information, but on the other , it apparently can cut off entire bodies of information far too easily.
At least, books and journals occur in multiple copies - yet MU maintains archives and a full-time archivarian staff, while nothing is done about preserving electronic ‘publications’.
Yet the cost of electronic data storage has been dropping so drastically that the savings which MU might have realize from this above-referred “burning of electronic books” are pityfull compared to those which could and should be realized in several other areas, e.g. administrative bloat.
As to the second part, “killing of the wise men”: the selective and discriminatory relation between MU and its growing corpus of retired and emeritus professors requires closer investigation. They constitue a resource which is badly under-utilized, except when it comes to fund-raising.
Particularly in this new era of World Wide Web, Distance Education, and similar electronic developments, the PA Governor and Bell have been proposing and facilitating extensive outreach , communication and cooperation between universities, research institutes, industry, government and the general public.
Therefore, a pity action like closing websites seems a modern throwback to old times and very contrary to what I personally as well as others feel Millersville should be spending time and effort on.
Ben Oostdam