We have been working on building emailing lists to contact folks around the country (indeed, world) about our Student Competition Using Differential Equation Modeling – SCUDEM to be held on 21 April 2018. We are trying to line up host sites for SCUDEM 2018 and so we are working on making a list so we can mail out invitations to host SCUDEM 2018 AND later so we and other local hosts can use the list to invite teams to compete in SCUDEM 2018.
Somehow I get a name and email, often the chair of the mathematics department, for a school, but the invitation bounces back. So I go looking for the school to see if perhaps that person has moved on and there might be another contact person. Often, I find a new person, at which point I update the Excel spreadsheet which contains the growing emailing list information and send along the invite to the new person.
However, there have been a number of cases for which when I get to the institution's web page I see no mathematics faculty; not because they dropped the department, but because the school is about to disappear. Indeed, in one instance all I found was a notice of an auction and information on where alumni could get a transcript. That was it! Oh, and a fair thee well notice to alumni.
Institutions of higher learning are supposed to be institutions, in a sense, of a permanent place one can go to in order to learn, inquire, be collegial, and grow intellectually, not an auction! Thus, it is very sad to see this and because of what I am doing in moving about to build lists of mathematics leaders at schools I have run into this disappearance act by schools, up front and directly. It is not the same as a news report, or a notice in the Chronicle of Higher Education. It is me facing a web page for an institution that is disappearing and it makes me sad; even if there are "good" reasons for the closure, it is still sad to see a once vibrant community disappear. Farewell thou good and faithful servant in the community of higher education.