Letter Writing Guidelines

Guidelines for Letter-Writers


Over the past week, alumni have started sending letters to University administrators explaining the value of Elements.  The letters are targeted at three people:  Jim Leloudis (Associate Dean for Honors), Karen Gil (Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences), and Holden Thorp (Chancellor).  We are targeting these three because the original decision to cut the course was made by Leloudis, who reports to Dean Gil, who reports to Chancellor Thorp.  So we want the letter addressed to all 3 of them (see below) with a “cc” to doctorgoldbergstudents@gmail.com.  It will be most effective if you use the same subject line.

You can use this heading/address:


To: holden_thorp@unc.edu, kgil@email.unc.edu, leloudis@email.unc.edu
Cc:  doctorgoldbergstudents@gmail.com
Subject: Goldberg’s Honors Course — Element of Politics

XX August 2011

To Chancellor Holden Thorp, Dean Karen Gil, and Associate Dean Jim Leloudis:


In composing your letter, please keep these points in mind.
  • First, we want to sing the praises of Elements without expressing any negative comparative judgments about other professors or courses at UNC.
  • Second, the Deans think they are still giving Goldberg an adequate opportunity to teach, so we have to explain the difference between letting him teach 2 and 3 versus just 1 and 1 each year.  We really have to make the case for letting Goldberg teach as much as he is able and reach as many students as possible, and that this should be a priority for Honors even in a tight budget year.
  • While Goldberg has offered to teach for free (and the refusal of this is telling), our goal is to have the courses fully funded.  We don’t want a compromise that would leave Goldberg receiving half the pay.
  • Assoc Dean Jim Leloudis has recently indicated that the rationale for cutting was to fund science courses, where there is a “causal relationship” between the courses and professional success (because of journal publications).  Feel free to challenge this whole “causal relationship” idea, and if you are a science major who benefited from Goldberg’s classes, please let this be known.
  • Lastly, we want to emphasize that Dr. Goldberg has not had any involvement in this ongoing effort (in the past people have unkindly implied that he “stirs us up,” and we cannot stand for even an oblique affront to his character).  Since Dr. Goldberg has never done anything to encourage our efforts, please keep in mind that this is not a cult of personality but rather a plea on behalf of future students, that they may have the opportunities we had.
In the past week or so, Assoc Dean Jim Leloudis has begun replying to alumni letters with the following text:


Dear [Alumni],

As a direct consequence of unprecedented state budget cutbacks, all of our academic programs are faced with the need to balance priorities.  In this context, I have asked Larry Goldberg to continue teaching two courses in the Elements series going forward – one in the Fall and one in the Spring.  For 2011/12, as a way to transition to this revised schedule, we have two courses for Fall 2011 and hopefully will have one for the Spring.  This means that students will still be able to take Elements classes.


The Honors program is committed to a strong great books series as well as a broad range of other Honors courses taught by outstanding faculty from departments across the College of Arts and Sciences. 


I’ve attached a story from last week’s UNIVERSITY GAZETTE _ August 24, 2011 _ Budget-1 that provides some additional information on the budget challenges Carolina is facing.


Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.


Best regards,

Jim Leloudis


We are encouraging alumni to write back to this message, challenging the claim that a tight budget is a good reason to cut $15,000 from a course that is so acclaimed, popular, and distinguished.  If possible, please reply in whatever way you see fit, but it would be great if you could include these questions:


(a) What are the latest guiding principles/vision for Honors, on the basis of which academic priorities were “balanced” after the budget shortfall? 

(b) What programs/courses are taking priority over Elements?

(c) What information/facts were used as the basis of the decision (e.g. were enrollments a factor)?

(d) Who was consulted in the decision, and who was involved in making the ultimate decision?

(e) What was the expected budget for 2011-2012 before the shortfall was announced (or in proxy, what was the 2010-2011 budget), and what is the current proposed 2011-2012 budget?



Please let us know if you get any answers to these questions!




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