Shorter University Departure #87
Mr. Britt Madden, Jr.
Executive Director of Admissions, CAPP
3 years of service
Before the academic year began, we warned our readers that Shorter’s hiring of individuals with no terminal degree, who had not taught in college or who, in some cases, had no teaching experience at all would be costly to students.
The National Football League just learned the consequences of hiring poorly trained substitutes for their games. That poor decision raised the ire of the fans, caused doubt in the final scores of games, confused the players and had owners and managers up in arms. At the moment, the students of the former School of Science, now the Department of Natural Sciences are paying the price of poor hiring of replacement faculty that is reflected in what can only be described as barely suppressed chaos on the Hill.
Think, for a moment, of a business or university, in this case, in terms of the work staff. Most companies (and colleges) realize that there is importance in retaining a balance in the workforce. Long-term employees hold a historical memory of the institution. They provide context for ideas and improvements in the business. They act as mentors to new employees. They know what works, and what doesn’t in their field and they help guide new employees toward success at the institution. Of equal importance is the stability that they provide to the institutional workforce.
Mid-range employees are generally the breeding ground for potential management. Mid-range employees are often tested with more responsibility. It is often where the owner of the business or institution determines the true value of an employee as a long-term hires. In academia, the value of mid-term employees is expressed in tenure. If a professor seems to be a fit for the institution and provides the expected excellence in teaching, they are placed on what is known as tenure track.
Due in large measure to the actions of the GBC, Nelson Price and the Dowless administration, resignations were high and costly in the School of Science. Good managers know that when you lose key personnel, you work to replace those individuals with others equally skilled for the positions. Unfortunately, Dowless and company are not good managers. As a result, the Dean of Arts and Sciences has no background in science, the associate dean of sciences holds only a Master’s degree and most of the new faculty either don’t know their subject matter or don’t know how to teach – or in some cases, are guilty of both.
When nursing faculty are telling students that deoxygenated blood is blue (look it up, it’s a myth), when ecology professors believe and teach that salmon spawn in estuaries, it isn’t the result of a re-alignment with creationism, this is just egregious academic instruction.
When ecology classes stay indoors and when newly-hired professors consider themselves exempt from the long-standing and strictly enforced policy of absolutely no cell phone, including texting and no hand-held communication device use during the weekly science seminar, something is seriously amiss.
Students are crying out to those of us who will listen. They deserve to be heard. Juniors and seniors, especially, know that their success in grad school and in the nursing field depends on receiving accurate information. They know that if they perform poorly on grad school entrance exams or fail their nursing boards, then their time at Shorter is for naught.
They go to the faculty for help, and despite Shorter’s open door policy, they find the new faculty either not in the office or holed up behind closed doors during office hours.
Many of their questions are in regard to the syllabus for the class. A syllabus is a contract between professor and student. The professor lists texts to be used, clearly delineates the course expectations and outline, explains the grading system for the course and assigns point value to each of the components (tests, exams, in-class participation, research papers, extra credit, if available). Syllabi provide context for the student and lets them know what is expected of them in order to earn a good grade.
It seems that with some new professors, the guidelines of the syllabus are being ignored or arbitrarily changed. We are also hearing reports of revised and often arbitrary point assignment, testing on materials not taught in class or assigned and last-minute availability of online exams. In other words, the professor is breaking the contract with the student.
To add to the tension, there are wide-spread allegations of cheating. Students tell of being accused of stealing exams in order to sell them. The exam was later found by the professor in a stack of graded exams. Other students are being accused of cheating on exams or assigned work. Why does this suddenly seem to be a problem on the Hill? These sorts of accusations are extremely serious and should be of concern to the administration. When the accusations are false, that is a glaring failure in professional behavior of the faculty and the administration who hired them.
In other words, the NFL fiasco looks like a cake walk compared to what students on the Hill are experiencing.
Students, don’t give up – it is your education that is at stake. You have a voice.
- Document the class, date, time, other witnesses and a description of the complaint.
- Follow protocol and work your way up the chain of command. If the professor isn’t listening, go to the department chair.
- If you receive no satisfaction there, go to the Assistant Dean of Sciences.
- Dr. Sabrena Parton is the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.. Address your complaints to her, in writing.
- File a formal complaint with the Dean of Students or Provost, if necessary. Be aware that there is a written policy which addresses your fear of retaliation against you.
Parents, are you listening?
The process is tedious, but if you follow procedure, file a written complaint and receive no satisfaction, let your parents know. Shorter is required by SACS to keep a record of all complaints, including student complaints, faculty complaints and outside complaints, and document their resolution.
And remember – we are listening.