President Bridges denies Galindo’s appeal for tenure

Josh Goodman

President George Bridges has upheld a decision by Whitman’s personnel committee denying tenure to Alberto Galindo, assistant professor of foreign languages and literatures for Spanish. Galindo was informed of the decision on Friday, June 15.

The appeal directly to Bridges took place after the personnel committee denied Galindo tenure in December and denied his appeal in May. Bridges considered whether the personnel committee followed the college’s tenure-review guidelines.

The initial decisions drew heavy criticism from students and Galindo’s colleagues in the Spanish department, including a petition signed by over 800 students, buttons saying “Galindo” worn by some graduating seniors during commencement and a video released this month supporting his appeal for tenure.

Nohemy Solórzano-Thompson, associate professor of foreign languages and literatures for Spanish and chair of the Spanish department, said that she and her colleagues did not agree with the decision to deny Galindo tenure.

“The Spanish Department is very disappointed at the College’s decision in this matter, and our thoughts are with Professor Galindo,” she said in an email.

Geni Venable ’12, one of Galindo’s students and an organizer of efforts supporting his appeals, also expressed disappointment in Bridges’s decision.

“We, the students supporting Galindo, respectfully and thoughtfully appealed to the administration and the faculty with evidence of Professor Galindo’s outstanding teaching ability, his commitment to Whitman as an institution, and with shining endorsements from the other Spanish department professors,” she said in an email. “I am baffled and disheartened that this is the culmination of all of our careful organizing.”

In the video supporting Galindo’s appeal to Bridges, students mentioned his engaging classes, signature end-of-class quizzes, willingness to tackle topics such as gender and sexuality and excellence as an advisor and mentor.

“I feel very disillusioned about Whitman and the respect and consideration it gives its students and the student experience,” Venable said.

Bridges said that the college fully considered the student perspective.

“Our students have conveyed their views about Professor Galindo and his tenure decision very creatively, respectfully and effectively,” he said in an email. “In all tenure and promotion decisions, Whitman considers students’ views fully and deliberately.”

Tenure decisions are based upon quality of teaching, research or professional activity and service to the college. The college considers end-of-semester student evaluations of professors and allows other student input as part of the process. Both Bridges and Provost and Dean of Faculty Timothy Kaufman-Osborn met with students following the initial denial.

Galindo declined to comment on his reactions to Bridges’s decision, but did wish to thank his students for their interest in his tenure appeals.

While the personnel committee and Bridges have denied Galindo’s requests for tenure, the Board of Trustees could still award him tenure, though it is unlikely that they will do so.

“I know of no instances when the Board of Trustees has reversed a tenure decision,” Bridges said.

Assuming that doesn’t happen, Venable said that whatever place Galindo goes to next will be fortunate.

“I . . . congratulate whatever institution that chooses to hire him and invest in him,” she said. “They will not regret it.”

Updated on June 18, 2012 to reflect the fact that Bridges’s decision was based upon whether the personnel committee followed the college’s tenure review guidelines.