Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

ASWC Town Hall: Dittrich encourages students to ‘light a fire of conversation’ regarding tenure

Last Wednesday, Feb. 15, students gathered to discuss the tenure process at Whitman at ASWC’s third town hall meeting this academic year.

In light of recent student uproar over Assistant Professor of Spanish Alberto Galindo’s tenure denial, Provost and Dean of Faculty Timothy Kaufman-Osborn spoke about the importance of the tenure process for Whitman’s future as an academic institution and addressed students’ concerns about the lack of student voice in the review.

“The purpose of the tenure process, I would argue, is to ensure as fairly and accurately we can that the faculty of Whitman College is the very best that they can be,” Kaufman-Osborn said. “A tenured position is the most important personnel decision the college will ever make.”

In explaining the tenure process, Kaufman-Osborn stressed the importance of faculty input in the process.

“One of the premises of our process is the comprehensive review of candidates for tenure is best performed by that candidate’s peers; hence, the review is conducted first and foremost by faculty members,” he said.

However, Kaufman-Osborn also stressed the value of student evaluations in the tenure review process. Kaufman-Osborn noted that professors being reviewed for tenure must submit two-thirds of student evaluations from classes they have taught in the past.

“One of the things we’re considering is making the evaluation process all electronic,” he said.

ASWC Senator first-year Evan Griffis and Vice President junior Maggie Appleton are working on an ASWC resolution that will work to address student grievances about the tenure process and hopefully allow more student participation in the tenure process, including requiring campus-wide notification when professors are about to undergo review.

“We want to be able to allow professors to solicit students for letters of recommendation to go towards their review,” Appleton said.

Other student concerns included the short time frame students have to fill out in-class student evaluations, calling for electronic-only student evaluations and student full-review of the questions that will be on the evaluations.

Senior Emily Cornelius was excited that the process is open for discussion for students.

“I was happy an administrator was present to address the issue [of tenure] directly and explain what happens in the process directly,” she said. “I was happy to hear that [Kaufman-Osborn] is open to change and students’ concerns over this issue.”

Senior ASWC President Matt Dittrich emphasized the necessity of voicing student frustration in light of the tenure review process.

“Consider the ideas of your peers around campus . . . there are a lot of people around campus that are frustrated: let’s turn this frustration into some productive change,” Dittrich said.   “Let’s start a fire of conversation to make some positive change.”

The ASWC resolution on student grievances regarding the tenure process will be voted on and discussed on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 4 p.m. in Reid 110 and again Sunday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. in Reid GO2.

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