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On June 13, the SAINTs group, President Sister Janet, Dean William Leonard, Dr. Patricia Rissmeyer, and Erin Farmer-Noonan met for the second time to discuss the letter of demands put forward by the SAINTs group.
The group of both students and faculty members discussed course evaluations and their place in the tenure process as well as a potential listening forum for student involvement in the tenure process. Both of these points were highlighted in the letter of demands put forward by the SAINTs group.
They focused on student input in the tenure process, which currently consists of student responses to course evaluations. The group wants to look at the specific questions being posed to students in these course evaluations and determine if the current open-ended questions provide enough information to the tenure committee about the professor’s behavior in a classroom setting.
The group hopes to spend an hour meeting and going over these questions.
They hope to achieve a balance of curriculum, actual classroom time, as well as, evaluate the use of how much time outside the classroom the professor utilizes; either mentoring, giving career advice, or even attending/advising events, to be included in the tenure decision process.
In addition to these final course evaluations, they would like to see a midterm evaluation added. This would allow professors to improve during the academic school year and would reflect towards the final evaluation.
Listening forums were also discussed. The purpose of this forum, much like the ones that already exist on campus, is to allow for a safe space in which students can voice their concerns about professors, the tenure process, and provide a platform to promote the new evaluations being created. The forum would need to balance professionalism and free thinking, according to the group. They do not want students to come in and “bash” professors around other students who could potentially take a class with them.
The SAINTs organizers plan to meet with new SGA President Devin Gilmore and new SGA Vice President Eric Cote to discuss more ideas to make this forum as effective as possible.
In an email, Rissmeyer said that she believes “it is premature for me to comment on the listening forum. It is one of the ideas proposed by the SAINTS leaders that will be further developed this summer.”
“We had a good meeting with the SAINTs group on Monday, We have continued to listen to ways we can improve the course and faculty evaluation process to ensure students’ views are accurately captured,” Leonard said in an email. “These ideas will be shared with the faculty and departments who are partners with the administration in any evaluation process.”
In an email, Sister Janet said, “I would note that conversations with the SAINTS group have been both positive and productive. I am most appreciative for the students’ time and continued interest in working collaboratively to address their concerns.”
Farmer-Noonan could not be reached for a comment about the latest meeting.
“I am excited to say we are making progress with Sr. Janet and administration on the promotion and tenure process, as well as course evaluations, and a listening forum for students to express a variety of issues,” says Marcie Paez ’17. “There is a lot of work left in ensuring that we are the student body is heard thoroughly every year, especially in regards to their professors. Sr. Janet and the administration that have been present for these meetings are working with us to create a positive and comprehensive way to execute many of our ideas.”
The following day, on June 14, both Dr. Jeffrey Fortin and Dr. Clare Mehta were awarded tenure and promoted to Associate professor.
BREAKING: Both Dr. Fortin and Dr. Mehta have been granted tenure. pic.twitter.com/7NXHVfdbfU
— The Hub (@ECtheHUB) June 14, 2016
I really hope @EmmanuelCollege students and alumni view this successful battle as a stepping stone and not an all-out victory
— Monica Busch (@somethingmonica) June 15, 2016
Students spoke and administration listened. Huge step in the right direction for EC🙏🏻🙏🏻🙌🏻
— Johnny Utah (@DILZMAN) June 14, 2016
“I am beyond thrilled that our efforts and letters were successful in the aid to restore a proper decision to both of these professors,” said Paez. “They are wonderful academics and deserve tenure. It is instrumental, though, that we continue with our efforts to have more student input and better communication between administration and the student body in order to avoid a situation like this again.”
SAINTs will meet again with administrators in a months time to continue their discussion. A specific date will be announced at a later date.
Abigail Matheson is the Editor in Chief of The Hub. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @abbimathy.