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Letter to the Editor: Apologize to Professor Reeves et al. Reinstate Dr. Craig.

I write this anonymously because I’m ashamed to be associated with an institution that does not value its educators.

As an EC alumna, I was horrified to learn that Dr. Christopher Craig in the English department was recently denied tenure. Dr. Craig revolutionized my understanding of literature and critical theory, and was instrumental in preventing the nihilism that comes from attempting to educate oneself in an otherwise deadening environment. His ability to whip a group of undergraduates into a pedagogically rich frenzy is unparalleled; students exiting his classes have a fire in their bellies that is rarely seen on the Emmanuel College campus.

So why was Dr. Craig denied tenure? It’s impossible to tell. The administration has gone hush-hush, stating that they “cannot meet with students about this matter,” that the tenure selection process is private. Why are students exempted from this process, when they are the group who will be most affected by the outcome?

Unfortunately, Dr. Craig isn’t the first–the rash of tenure denials began with Professor Caroline Reeves in 2011 and shows no signs of stopping. Why is Emmanuel firing its young, energetic, intelligent professors? Is EC incapable of diversity, unable to withstand the throes of an academically vigorous environment? Are the powers-that-be intentionally constructing a tame and soft-spoken faculty, counting on the short memory and high turnover rate of undergraduates to ensure that they won’t be stopped?

EC administration: you are alienating your students and alumni, your future donors and supporters. Take a hard look at how your hiring (firing?) policy affects your students. Introduce transparency into your tenure process. Apologize to Professor Reeves et al. Reinstate Dr. Craig.

-Anonymous

Posted by on March 26, 2014. Filed under Alumni Action,Around Campus,Letters to the Editor,Opinions & Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

6 Responses to Letter to the Editor: Apologize to Professor Reeves et al. Reinstate Dr. Craig.

  1. newgreyhair

    March 26, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    When I saw someone post on Facebook about this without using the professor’s name, I instinctively worried that it was Chris or one other professor, because Chris was one of the few people I could think of that would inspire such anger and betrayal as was in that person’s post.

    When I was at Emmanuel, Chris asked me to write a letter to the tenure board in support of his application for a tenure-track job, and I was incredibly happy to do so. This was five, maybe five and a half years ago. I hope that he doesn’t mind me revealing how grudgingly the wheels of the tenure machine move.

    I remember Chris now as incredibly lively and challenging. He treated students with what I can only describe as dignity, and he prepared me excellently for graduate school and more importantly, because he treated us with respect and as intellectual peers, he prepared me for life.

    As I began applying to grad schools, I went to Chris for a letter of recommendation of my own. I kept a sealed copy and only a few months ago opened it. I actually cried reading Chris’ support of me. I remembered being in his classes and feeling like the work that we as a collective were doing was important. I cannot overstate how important that feeling is. It is the space where true change happens, when a group of people work together in pursuit of intellectual goals. It is also a very rare thing for a professor to be able to foster.

    Now that I am disabled and had to drop out of grad school just shy of two Masters’ degrees, a lot of the time I don’t feel smart. My disabilities have impacted my memory and cognition, as well as my emotional and physical health. It’s hard for me to believe that I used to be able to do so much more.

    I happened to open Chris’ letter at exactly the right time, and it did reminded me exactly what an excellent professor should do: take a genuine interest in students, challenge them, support them, and make them feel smart.

    I’m bummed that Emmanuel is apparently trying to burn this bridge, but Chris has my absolute support and I believe he’ll continue to be an asset to whichever college he finds himself at next.

    _______
    *Point of clarification: denying tenure isn’t the same as firing, but makes it much easier to fire without cause. It can also be a way of telling a professor that they don’t have a future at that college, “encouraging” them to quit so you don’t have to make the choice of not inviting them back or firing them. It is more politically expedient to have the professor leave under pressure than it is to outright fire them, because then you get op-eds like this.

    To be fair, this is not a problem only at Emmanuel, but is an attitude that is becoming more common at colleges, as “visiting,” “associate,” and “assistant” professors can be paid far less, with a much less steady workload than “full” or “tenured” professors. (One explanation of this convoluted system can be found here: http://www.unm.edu/~devalenz/profs.html)

    Emmanuel is also experiencing serious growing pains as it attempts to shift its money and funding from its heart in liberal arts, to the more profitable “hard” sciences. And man do I (with my English and Secondary Education degrees) have feelings about the way that this impacts the value of the degrees of those students who have degrees in programs that are being gutted.

  2. Guest

    March 27, 2014 at 12:22 am

    Horrified. But let’s also not forget the way Tim Evans and the entire Musical Director position was just thrown away!!

  3. Cottus

    March 27, 2014 at 12:37 am

    Reeves made the mistake of rubbing Sister Janet the wrong way. It suffices to say that there were reasons beyond stinginess that she did not receive tenure.

    • Love Emmanuel

      March 28, 2014 at 11:46 pm

      As a recent graduate of Emmanuel, and someone working in the legal field, please remember that unless you have first hand knowledge as to the reasons why tenure was not granted – everything posted is considered hearsay. Getting tenure is not a right, it’s a privilege that must be earned and also voted on by their peers. Do you think Emmanuel would deny tenure if all the requirements were met by these individuals? Personally, I don’t think Emmanuel would open themselves up to potential lawsuits.

      How did the students hear about his denial? This is private information.

      What truly bothers me, was the post about Sister Janet and her rubbing Professor Reeves the wrong way. Sister Janet has been the corner stone of Emmanuel since the 60’s, and I took offense to this off handed remark.

      You have the right to write how you please, but unless you have first hand knowledge (not someone’s surmising) then these articles are meaningless. I deal with facts on a daily basis, and none of this would wash in my profession.

      Lastly, since this can of worms has been opened, do the research and analyze the requirements to see if everything was met by the professor. Example: some tenure requires professors to submit publications while they’ve been employed at the college/university.

      I know you’re disappointed but remember there’s always more to the story, or in my case facts.

  4. Jackie

    March 27, 2014 at 6:11 am

    Every single day I am more disgusted to be an alumnus of Emmanuel College. Horrid.

    • Love Emmanuel

      March 28, 2014 at 11:50 pm

      Why?