Author: Yennaedo Balloo
As you know, if you spend any time in the Marketplace, Cooler, Academic Quad or the campus in general (or even check your e-mail), President Prager declared her resignation this past week. Amid the astonishment (it was bigger than any news I’ve recently read on my facebook news feed) and implications (we have to search for a president again?), I’m feeling a mix of gratification and anger at this resignation. Anyone who saw me the afternoon that the news fell knows that I approached it with my usual droll attitude (I was ready with a verse from a choice Wizard of Oz song here and there), but I’ve neglected to share my true and deeper sentiments on the matter.
Anyone in my class year (’09) who attended convocation (for the bitching performance by Carlos Santana and son) may remember a speech given by Sterling Award winner and Math Professor Jennifer Quinn, who encouraged us to be wary of the “monsters under our beds.” She warned us that there was more to the school than met the eye, and that there was far more going on behind closed administrative doors of the higher-ups that would ultimately affect our futures than would be fun to acknowledge, but we would have to as responsible adults.
Back then I applauded the speech as her leaving in style, and doing so through some classic radicalism. But given the nature of President Prager’s departure (because of “lack of strong relations”), there’s something in this retirement, abrupt as it is, that gives the convocation speech a renewed meaning. There’s something in this whole fiasco that stinks, and everyone I’ve spoken with agrees, but for now I’d only like to point out my thoughts on President Prager’s “departure.”
First off, I think President Prager did at least a decent job in her post, short lived as it was. She raised money so that IPO can offer study abroad to greater numbers of students, which is definitely a good thing. She worked to be a present, in touch and active member of the community. All of this, unfortunately, pales against the circumstances in which she departs. President Prager will be assuming a tenured post as a history professor in 2008, after fulfilling a year and a half as our president.
Now, maybe my expectations of what the “long haul” is are a bit dated, but when we were searching for the candidate to fill the post that we chose Prager for, I believe we spent the year searching (my whole first year, as a matter of fact) to find someone who would stick around for a while (be here for the “long haul”). So, someone going against that general stipulation and instead taking on a tenured teaching position that they asked for as a condition when they were hired seems just a bit suspect to me, and I think it should seem so to all of us.
Strained relationships aside, as a student and—more importantly—as a member of this community, I feel robbed and cheated that she is resigning as president so quickly and abruptly—and doubly so because she will automatically assume a tenured position here.
My issue that I truly wish to voice in this article though, is this: President Prager dealt a major blow to many of our professors and ultimately the school as a whole in her time here because she pledged that none of the currently adjunct professors would receive tenure, according to one of my professors. Now, hearing this I was a bit perplexed. Isn’t tenure the result of good performance as an adjunct? Why would we just give out tenure to someone we hadn’t had time to acclimate to the community?
How many of your professors are adjuncts? How many are adjuncts that you love and respect? What our President did was single-handedly knock all of these professors away. Many of the courses taught here that are eye-catching, unique and “specialty” courses are taught by adjuncts, and most of our tenured professors started out as adjunct professors.
Why President Prager did something like this—which is not only inhospitable, but also disloyal to professors who have been serving the school—is beyond me. This is why it upsets me that, following her declaration, she will assume a position as a tenured professor in our history department.
That she was automatically receiving the position after the circumstance of her resignation was bothersome enough, but that President Prager received this position in light of her personal stance with regards to adjunct-to-tenure promotion reeks of hypocrisy that sickens me to the point that I’m looking forward to my graduation for the first time in my career. There are too many wonderful professors here who have given their time and invested their effort in teaching us who have been slighted by President Prager’s stance for me to swallow her abrupt resignation and assumption of automatic tenure without displeasure and, dare I say, anger.
All I can come up with at the moment is to ask, publicly, for a boycott of registration in soon-to-be ex-President Prager’s classes when she assumes her tenured post as history professor. We as a community need to come together and finally see just what these “monsters under our bed” really are—and to turn the lights on and deal with them.
Yennaedo Balloo is a junior ECLS major. He can be reached at [email protected]
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