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Marcella Paez ’18, Nicole Varca ’18, Emily Larkin ’16, and Kyera Sterling ’15 represented the SAINTs group. President Sister Janet, Dr. William Leonard, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Erin Farmer Noonan, Director of Human Resources and Title IX Coordinator, Cindy O’Callaghan, Associate Dean of Academic Administration, and Dr. Patricia Rissmeyer, Vice President of Student Affairs represented the administrative side of the discussion.
When asked about the meeting, Larkin said, “it was a very productive first conversation and I’m pleased that members of the administration took time to hear concerns of students. We still have a long road ahead, but they were very open to a number of suggestions especially about student and alum input at the College as a whole.”
During the meeting, specifics of Dr. Fortin and Dr. Mehta’s appeals were not discussed. Administrators did say that the process was ongoing and they had read all of the op-eds, letters, demands, and petitions with care. For Fortin and Mehta’s privacy, much of the process needed to be private.
“I’m incredibly invested in the meetings that are to come,” said Sterling. “I feel that there are still a good many questions that must be answered and changes that need to be made. As an alumna, it’s important to me that the professors that aided in my development at Emmanuel are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve by the larger institution and that includes through the promotion and tenure process.”
Larkin hopes,”in the future, we can improve the process so that the Emmanuel College community feels more connected to the process but that maintains the privacy and respect for professors going through the tenure and promotion process.”
“I look forward to making progress with Sr. Janet and administration on how we can make the promotion and Tenure process more transparent and include more student input,” said Paez. “It is imperative we work together to find a middle ground on which administration and students can work together to voice concerns across all boards, not just academic. Current students care about Emmanuel and its faculty, and this is just one step closer to making sure we are working as a cohesive body.”
In a Portal announcement at 6:39pm on May 31, Sister Janet addressed the student body about the meeting. The announcement reads as follows:
To: The Emmanuel College Community
From: Sister Janet Eisner, SND, President
Date: May 31, 2016
As indicated last week, I received a communication from a group of current students and recent graduates expressing concern regarding matters related to promotion and tenure. This afternoon, I engaged in positive and productive dialogue with representatives of these concerned students and recent graduates. Participants in the meeting included Emily Larkin ’16; Marcella Paez ’18; Kyera Sterling ’15; and Nicole Varca ’18. I was also joined by Dr. William Leonard, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean; Erin Farmer Noonan, Director of Human Resources; Cindy O’Callaghan, Associate Dean of Academic Administration; and Dr. Patricia Rissmeyer, Vice President of Student Affairs. We actively listened to the thoughtful points of view being expressed. The students and recent graduates with whom we met today demonstrated their commitment to the College, and we recognize how passionate they are about our faculty and the enduring impact faculty have on their lives.
Dr. Leonard and Cindy O’Callaghan had an opportunity to share in greater detail the promotion and tenure process. Out of concern for the individuals involved, and in adherence to the confidentiality associated with personnel matters, we emphasized the importance of keeping the discussions focused on the process rather than on specific individuals. They described the peer review process and the criteria for tenure: outstanding teaching, scholarship, and contribution to the mission of the College through service to the department and the College. I also clarified a misconception that the promotion and tenure process may be in some way linked to financial or operational matters at the College. These factors are unrelated.
Most importantly, we had a good discussion about where we need to go from here. We agreed that ongoing discussions will be transparent, direct, and collaborative. I look forward to continuing this productive dialogue and we have agreed to meet again in a few weeks.
I believe deeply that it is the shared responsibility of faculty, staff, and students to ensure the continued success of our College community. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
According to their Facebook page, SAINTs and administrators will meet every two weeks to discuss the demands more thoroughly.
Abigail Matheson is the Editor in Chief of The Hub. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @abbimathy.