Page 1

A&E pg. 4

This weekend: Student-written One-Act plays feature stories of love, siblings, post-apocalyptic wasteland

Opinion pg. 7

Pioneer editors argue that the tenure review process is flawed, out of touch with spirit Whitman claims to embody

This Week On Web

Students speak about Professor Galindo and their thoughts on his tenure denial at www.whitmanpioneer.com

The

PIONEER

BERFIELD

ISSUE 3 | February 9, 2012 | Whitman news since 1896

SHUT OUT GALINDO TENURE DENIAL PROVOKES OUTCRY by K ELSEY K ENNEDY & SUSA NA BOW ERS Feature Editor, Staff Reporter

T

he news that Assistant Professor of Spanish Alberto Galindo did not receive tenure came as a surprise to many on campus, provoking confusion and sparking conversation about the tenure process among students and faculty. Achieving tenure is among the defining events in a professor’s career. For many students, however, the particulars of this process remain locked in the ivory tower of academia. “Personally, I was upset and concerned because I didn’t know if my experience of his teaching was something that had been overlooked somehow,” said senior Meghan Bill of the decision. Galindo, who arrived at Whitman in the fall of 2006 directly after completing his doctorate in Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures at Princeton University, sought tenure and promotion to associate professor in the fall of 2011 at the start of his sixth year of teaching. This timeline of Galindo’s career at Whitman is standard for tenure-track professors. According to Provost and Dean of the Facul-

ty Timothy Kaufman-Osborn, after three of years of teaching tenure-track professors may have their contracts renewed for another three years, eventually going up for tenure in their sixth year of teaching. The subsequent decision to deny Professor Galindo tenure by the Faculty Personnel Committee, a faculty-elected group of six faculty members representing all three academic divisions as well as the President and Provost and Dean of Faculty as non-voting members, elicited significant reaction from students in the Spanish and Race and Ethnic Studies Departments. The current voting members of the Faculty Personnel Committee are Professor of English Roberta Davidson, Professor of Biology Heidi Dobson, Associate Professor of Chemistry Frank Dunnivant, Professor of Economics Denise Hazlett, Associate Professor of Philosophy Patrick Frierson and Associate Professor of Anthropology Jason Pribilsky. Several students convened to prepare letters to President George Bridges and KaufmanOsborn in support of Galindo at the beginning of the semester under the name “Students Supporting Professor Galindo.” A meeting with President Bridges has

since been scheduled for Feb 15. “I welcome the meeting. Among the goals I have are to give students an opportunity to speak with [Kaufman-Osborn] and me about the tenure and promotion process and to listen very carefully to students’ concerns and views,” said Bridges. “We would like to meet with President Bridges and to basically express our support for Professor Galindo and to communicate how much he has affected our Whitman experience,” said senior Spanish major Grace Evans. Chair of the Spanish Department Nohemy Solorzano-Thompson echoed this support for Galindo’s promotion and noted that professors in the department wrote letters of recommendation on his behalf. “From the Spanish Department’s perspective, we are supportive of Professor Galindo, would like to see him receive tenure and were surprised and very disappointed by the committee’s decision,” she said. In accordance with the Faculty Handbook guidelines, Galindo has requested that a Review Committee be formed to evaluate the decision of the Faculty Personnel Committee. The Review Committee, comprising the three most senior memBERFIELD

NOWHERE TO GO Editor-in-Chief

“S

ometimes I go by it, and I’ll remember it and I’m like, I don’t ever want to go back there.” When Kirsten Ratliff passes by the Christian Aid Center on Birch Street, she recalls the months during her adolescence when the building was her only home. At age 11, Ratliff and her family lost their house, and, with no other options available to them, moved into the family house operated by the Christian Aid Center, where they stayed for a summer and into the beginning of the school year. Ratliff’s mother and father didn’t discuss the details of their financial troubles with her. “They were just like, we don’t have anywhere to go, this is what we’re going to have to do, you’re going to live here whether you like it or not, because there’s no other option,” she said. “I remember starting sixth grade in the homeless shelter.” Ratliff, her parents and her three sisters lived two to a bed in a one-bedroom apartment unit. The strict rules at the Christian Aid Center, cramped quarters and—most

of all—the sense of being homeless were very hard for Ratliff and her family. But the facility provided them with two meals a day, clothing and school supplies. Most importantly, it put a roof over their heads and helped Ratliff’s parents find jobs and transition out of the home. Ratliff’s family was able to benefit from the resources available to them in Walla Walla. If Ratliff had been alone, however, her story would be very different. “There’s no actual youth shelter where its just youth by themselves that are homeless, but there’s a lot of homeless youth in Walla Walla,” said Marcus Hepler, housing coordinator at Helpline of Walla Walla. Walla Walla has emergency shelters for women, men and families who find themselves without a place to stay the night. But there is nowhere for homeless youth to go. “There’s nothing,” said Susan Kralman, Homelessness/Poverty Response & Grant Coordinator for the Department of Human Services in Walla Walla. “Nobody has resources for them.” Kralman is working to start a shelter for homeless youth aged 13-17 in Walla Walla with Tim

Staff Reporter

C

Meliah, Regional Coordinator of Catholic Charities of Walla Walla, and Teri Barila at the Walla Walla Community Network. There are funds in Walla Walla to support youth to some extent. The school district can provide small things such as shoes, inhalers or an emergency cell phone call. But for a teen without a place to sleep at night, shoes aren’t going to solve the problem. “It doesn’t give a kid stability so that he or she can excel in life or even think about their future,” Kralman said. “They’re just worried about survival.” In Kralman’s work for the Department of Human Services, she compiles data from “Point in Time” surveys of homeless populations in Walla Walla county. The surveys are collected on one date each year; the idea is to get an estimate of the amount of homeless people in the county on any given date. These surveys are part of a statewide directive from 2005 that required each county to come up with a plan to reduce homelessness by 50 percent in 10 years. Seven years in, homelessness in Walla Walla has only declined slightly. see HOMELESSNESS, page 2

various platforms to voice opinions about the Faculty Personnel Committee’s decision around campus. For the last several weeks, a petition has circulated to the broader Whitman student community in an effort to gauge support for Galindo beyond the Spanish and Race and Ethnic Studies departments. As of Monday, Feb. 6, the petition had garnered over 700 signatures. “The idea of circulating the petition is to gather a sense of how many people’s Whitman experiences have been affected by him and how many people on campus would be sorry to see him go,” said Evans. Evans pointed to Galindo’s visibility around campus, whether as a panelist in various symposiums or a judge at Mr. Whitman, as part of the reason so many Whitties have coalesced behind this issue. The petition states: “We believe Professor Alberto S. Galindo embodies the spirit of excellence in teaching through his consistent efforts in the classroom and the broader Whitman College community. In recognition of the strong commitment the college makes to a rich student experience shaped by dynamic and passionate professors, we urge the Board of Trustees, the President see QUESTIONING TENURE, page 5

Off-campus studies to add programs, change tuition model for class of 2015 by EMILY LIN-JONES

Homeless youth in Walla Walla have few resources available by PATRICIA VA NDER BILT

bers and two most junior members of the full-time tenured teaching faculty, will determine whether adequate consideration was given to Galindo’s qualifications for tenure. Kaufman-Osborn chose not to comment on any specifics regarding Galindo’s denial of tenure. The Faculty Personnel Committee and college administrators are prohibited from discussing personnel cases because of rules about confidentiality. Galindo also declined to comment on the particulars of the case, but emphasized his appreciation of his students’ support. Galindo noted that one of his advisees was struck by the deep connection made between the late Dr. George Ball and his students after attending the memorial for the late professor on Jan. 28. “My student explained that the memorial was an amazing archive of the connection that took place between an excellent teacher like Dr. Ball and his students. To my student, the parallels were evident. I have immense respect and gratitude for this student and all the other students, former and current, who in these Kafkaesque times, make words and take action,” he said. Students have certainly taken action in the last month, using

hange is coming to Whitman’s Off-Campus Studies program, at least where the class of 2015 is concerned. The new model, which is to be implemented in the 2013 fall semester, will expand the college’s list of partner programs and charge Whitman tuition for all offered programs. “We realized that it wasn’t really financially sustainable for us to continue to allow aid to go off-campus and not have some actual revenue coming back to the college. Like many colleges, in order to continue to have financial aid be able to be applied to study abroad, we’re going to be charging Whitman tuition,” explained Director of OffCampus Studies Susan Brick. Students currently have the option to participate in approved programs, which are run through separate institutions and have their own separate tuitions. Whitman financial aid doesn’t apply to these programs. After the change, some of these approved programs will become partner programs, expanding the partner program list from around 45 options to over 70, and students who elect to take a semester abroad through a partner program will pay what they would normally pay for a semester at Whitman plus the cost of room and board. Brick said that this new model ensures that students with financial aid are able to choose from a variety of programs if they opt to study abroad. It will also allow the Financial Aid office to package a student’s oncampus aid with the cost of going abroad, lightening the fi-

nancial burden of traveling to more expensive destinations. “The main principle is that we want students to be able to go abroad regardless of their financial need,” she said. The change is also designed to more closely align off-campus programs with the academic goals and curriculum of Whitman. “We’re meeting with each department and asking them what kind of programming would really help students in their major: for their intellectual development, for their careers, for their global awareness,” said Brick. Studying abroad is generally a popular option for Whitman students, but recently there has been a downturn in the percentage of the student body choosing to take a semester abroad. Approximately 37 percent of this year’s junior class is going abroad, compared to last year’s 49 percent. Brick said the administration is not certain what is causing this change, although the economic downturn could be a factor. Some students confirmed that finances were a major factor in the decision to study abroad. “It is fairly expensive to study abroad in certain areas of the world depending on the exchange rates. I personally would have had to fund my way there and my own living situation, which is what made me decide not to study abroad,” said sophomore Jane Carmody. “I think the switch shows that the Study Abroad and Financial Aid office are now more sensitive to cost issues when choosing to study abroad.” see STUDY ABROAD, page 3


FEATURE

Feb

09 2012

PAGE

5

Committee decision to be reviewed from QUESTIONING TENURE, page 1

and the Provost and Dean of Faculty to grant Professor Galindo tenure.” “Students Supporting Professor Galindo” also tabled in Reid all last week, encouraging students to sign the petition and wear white ribbons to raise awareness. As part of this effort, concerned students initiated a “whiteout” last Thursday, calling for students to wear white in support of Professor Galindo. Senior Spanish major Zoe Kunkel-Patterson also argued while tabling in Reid last week that students should play a more visible role in the tenure process. “Their decisions impact our day to day lives and we are paying greatly for it,” she said. Despite her surprise at the Faculty Personnel Committee’s decision in the case of Galindo, Bill emphasized that she can’t presume to know the complexities of the tenure process. “I can see how there is possibly a need for distance between Whitman as an institution and faculty as members of that institution and students that are just passing through. I see the value in having some kind of distance in that process, but as a student of [Galindo’s], while he was still in the process of awaiting a decision, I would have liked to have had a chance to voice my opinion,” said Bill. Frustration over student representation in the assessment of professors is also felt by many students in the art department, who dispute the college’s decision to deny Lecturer of Art Mare Blocker a tenuretrack position. According to Kaufman-Osborn, the lecturer position held by Blocker was converted to a tenure-track position after the college was awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant last June. “In the case of Studio Art, we conducted a national search in order to identify the most qualified candidate for the position. In this instance, Nicole Pietrantoni was recommended as the most qualified by the search committee, and that recommendation was endorsed by the Committee of Division Chairs as well as the president. She signed a

contract with the College in December 2011,” said Kaufman-Osborn. “All I can say about this issue is that Professor Blocker was hired as a visiting assistant professor. She was not hired on a tenure track. Consequently, she has never been eligible for tenure and never been eligible to apply for tenure,” said Associate Professor of Art and Department Chair Charles Timm-Ballard. Blocker declined to comment on the specifics of her case. Blocker’s students are disappointed by the college’s decision, and wish they could have had more of a say in the process. “All the art students that I’ve talked to about it are very upset and disturbed at what little attention seems to have been paid to the people Mare taught, who should be considered the most informed judges of her teaching ability. The faculty in every department at Whitman should be taking a very critical look at their tenure processes, and seeing whether they accurately reflect the needs and desires of the student body. I think it’s pretty clear that right now they’re failing to do so,” said senior art major Sam Alden.

“Their decisions impact our day to day lives and we are paying greatly for it.” Zoe Kunkel-Patterson’12

Senior art major Sarah Canepa also emphasized Blocker’s popularity among students. “I knew that conflicts over her rehiring had come up before, but her students, including myself, had successfully advocated for her in the past, and I was optimistic that the strong support demonstrated by the student body on her behalf would continue to have an impact,” she said. In addition to calls for reassessment of their particular cases, Galindo’s and Blocker’s denials have raised more general questions about the role of students in the decision-making process. Currently, student input in tenure decisions comes mainly from

the course evaluations that students complete for each of their classes at the end of every semester. The evaluations are included in the Faculty Personnel Committee’s assessment. Students may also submit letters of recommendation on behalf of a professor, however, these letters are not openly solicited by the administration. “Students have on occasion submitted such letters, but, at present, there is no formal policy for soliciting such letters,” said Kaufman-Osborn. Bill and Evans both regret that they did not submit letters of recommendation on behalf of Galindo last semester, and wish that the administration advertised this outlet for additional student perspectives. “We really weren’t aware I think until the very, very last minute [that] we could have written letters, that we could have done something. It was literally sort of the day before the Personnel Committee was meeting that we were made aware that we could write letters of recommendation,” said Evans. Student evaluations weigh heavily alongside peer reviews, as well as a written statement by the professor seeking tenure and his or her course materials, in an effort to measure what Whitman terms “Excellence in Teaching,” the “most important criterion” in the Faculty Personnel Committee’s decision, according to the Faculty Handbook. Evaluations of a professor’s “Excellence in Professional Activity” and “Service to the College” are considered after this Excellence in Teaching criterion. A professor’s writing and research that appears in peer-reviewed publications, other peer-reviewed professional activities and involvement in professional organizations are among the elements included in the Faculty Personnel Committee’s assessment of a tenuretrack professor’s qualifications. Service to the College encapsulates a professor’s involvements outside of the classroom. A professor’s service to the Whitman community may include involvement on college committees, iniADVERTISEMENT

tiation of new programs, mentoring and more general efforts to enhance student life and Whitman’s commitment to diversity, as outlined in the handbook guidelines. Associate Professor of Religion Melissa Wilcox argues that the Service to the College category may not receive the attention it deserves in Faculty Personnel Committee decisions. Wilcox noted that professors who belong to under-represented groups often engage in service to the college that is not openly recognized in the tenure process. “Women faculty are far more likely to see students in their office hours or in private meetings elsewhere who are dealing with things like sexual assault. For the queer faculty, the queer students come to us with coming out issues or just any issue because we are someone they are more likely to identify with. For faculty of color, students of color disproportionately come to them. So there is all of this unacknowledged service time that most of us are very passionate about putting in . . . but how often, or do we even feel that it’s right to put it on our annual self-review?” she said. According to Wilcox, this service to the college often detracts from research time, which is weighed more heavily in the Excellence in Professional Activity category. While there are concerns about the juggling of these various components in the tenure process, in recent years the number of tenure-track professors awarded permanent positions has been high. “[Of] the 10 persons considered for tenure over the course of the past two years, nine were awarded this status,” said Kaufman-Osborn. “Students Supporting Professor Galindo” is hosting an information session for those interested in learning more about the tenure process and Galindo’s case. ASWC representatives will be present at the event, which will take place Thursday, Feb. 9 from 7-9 p.m. at La Casa Hispaña.

Tenure: seven quick facts compiled by ALYSSA FAIRBANKS Feature Editor

are re1. Professors viewed for tenure in their second year. Assistant Professors are reviewed for tenure in their sixth year.

2. Tenure is indefinite. there 3. Inwere2010-2011 123 fulltime tenure-track positions.

Board of Trustees 4. The may award indefinite tenure at any time with a special vote.

in 5. Excellence teaching, excellence in professional activity, service to the college are considered.

reviews 6. Course are considered

by the Personnel Committee.

a member of the 7. Iffaculty has not been

given tenure by the end of their sixth year, he or she shall not continue in service of the College beyond the end of their seventh year.

SOURCE: FACULTY HANDBOOK, SEC. 4

Whitman Pioneer Spring 2012 Issue 3 Feature  

The feature section from issue 3

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you