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Op-Ed: Emmanuel College Doesn’t Care About You

As an English major, I’ve learned to accept—and expect—criticism from my parents.

“Okay, but what do you plan to do with that degree?”

“Why not explore the sciences? You loved ER as a kid!”

“You couldn’t major in ‘waste of money’ instead?”

“Marry rich.”

As an English major, what I haven’t learned to accept or expect is the criticism that comes from my own college. But twice in as many semesters, I have been confronted with the fact that Emmanuel College obviously doesn’t care about me or any student who is trying to truly learn anything during his or her four years here.

When I heard last week that Professor Chris Craig had been denied tenure, I figured it was a joke. It would take a special kind of idiot to deny tenure to a professor who inspires and challenges and encourages and nurtures his students the way that Professor Craig does. I soon realized that I pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to line the pockets of some special kinds of idiots.

Professor Craig always managed to accomplish what so very few professors successfully do: he taught his classes something. Through his lectures and assigned readings, I learned about the oppressed, the repressed, the downtrodden, the misunderstood and the forgotten. I learned about America. I learned about humanity. I learned about myself. He was the first professor I’ve ever had who taught me about homosexuality during a class lesson that didn’t involve the words “AIDs” or “Stonewall Riot” or “Liza Minnelli.” They were lectures I cherished and won’t soon forget.

This administrative decision comes just months after Mark Baard, the only professor of journalism at Emmanuel College, was ambiguously let go. To say I learned more from Craig and Baard than from any other professors I’ve had at Emmanuel would be a gross understatement. But considering how little Emmanuel College seems to care about the English department, I’m presuming the irony of this situation is completely lost on them.

This isn’t the first time that Emmanuel has denied tenure to worthy applicants and it won’t be the last either. Every year, more and more (incredibly qualified and well-liked) professors from the humanities departments are terminated. And it makes me realize that—unless you’re on the all-powerful pre-med track with an expendable income waiting for you in a decade’s time—Emmanuel College is not at all concerned with the quality of your education.

Money talks, professors walk.

Brian Burns ’16 is a Staff Writer for The Hub. He can be reached at burnsb@emmanuel.edu . Follow him on Twitter @burnsing_up732

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

7 Responses to Op-Ed: Emmanuel College Doesn’t Care About You

  1. Alexandra Anastasia

    March 26, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    I only spent one year at Emmanuel. I transferred after freshman year to UMass Amherst (with his letter of recommendation) because Emmanuel was simply too expensive. Still, I took two classes with Chris Craig and I have never learned more in my life. I couldn’t have been more excited to get up at 7:30 am to go to his 9am, and I have never attended a more fascinating lecture. If I visited Emmanuel, it would be to see him. If anyone deserves tenure it is Chris Craig.

    • z

      March 28, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      Emmanuel is shit and I left there after only one year too. I only had two decent professors, who happened to be in English and art.

  2. Brien

    March 26, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    At the beginning of his class one afternoon, Professor Craig burst into the room, slammed the door, and channeled Senator Joseph McCarthy, delivering a historically accurate speech, complete with McCarthy’s mannerisms and accent.

    This is the passion of Professor Craig. He pours himself into teaching, and challenged me on an intellectual level no other professor in my college career managed. He expects critical thinking in his classroom, and won’t let his students get away with the easy answer. Emmanuel should celebrate Professor Craig as an example of the high caliber teaching at their institution, and recognize his tenure.

    Brien Hopkins
    2009 Alumni

  3. Cottus

    March 27, 2014 at 12:27 am

    Emmanuel is quite strange in that there is a complete disconnect between two sides: the professors and students on one, and the administration on the other. The administration constantly makes decisions that cause everyone’s heads to turn. I remember asking some of my professors about certain results and all they could do with shake their heads and shrug their shoulders. “I have no idea what they’re doing up there,” they all would effectively say.

    You are absolutely correct to say that Emmanuel’s administration is putting all its eggs in the science department basket. It makes sense, considering the investment in the new science center. Despite being a small school with a rising number of students and climbing tuition, Emmanuel has had some incredible talent pass through its halls only to pack up and leave because they could not get tenure – even when the professor had quickly or long ago established a firm base of students and a good reputation. Everyone knows it, but I doubt anything will be seriously done about it any time soon.

    I never had Craig myself, but I only ever heard rave reviews. Despite having years of success – seniors praising him when I was fresh meat, and fresh meat fawning over him when I was a jaded senior – it seems strange from an objective standpoint that he wasn’t granted a permanent position. However, knowing how the talking heads on top behaved during my stay, I do not know why anyone is surprised.

    Worst of all, there is nothing to do about it. The SGA is a complete and utter joke. You can’t play any game but that of the administration’s, and there were plenty of people that walked away because they knew they could not actually voice the opinions of the students.

    You said it quite succinctly: money talks.

  4. saints

    March 27, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    A shame. I was an EC English major (class of ’05), and got a great lib arts education from superb instructors. But that was the beginning of the Merck marriage, and it seems they’ve really lost their mission since then (although I’m sure they’d brand it as a “reinvention”).

    They’re not alone, though. Most colleges are slashing tenure commitments and gutting the humanities. You’d think if anything a Catholic school might maintain some appreciation for the value of the non-empirical, but apparently not.

  5. G

    March 27, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    My once-upon-a-time, fantastic mentor and professor, who I won’t name here, was denied tenure a few years back and moved on. I wrote a letter on his behalf. Apparently the opinion of a recent grad who did quite well for herself given this professor’s advice didn’t count for much. Sigh. You’re right – it’s becoming a science-based school dressed in liberal arts’ clothing.

  6. Class of 2011

    March 31, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Emmanuel is on a quest for the all mighty dollar. Plain and simple. I learned that the day I accepted only to spend four years on construction site with prices ever increasing and the caliber of the liberal arts education staying all but static. It’s sad because at its core was once a strong group of socially conscious professors who believed firmly in the values of the SND. This is simply another step on the path away from those values.