Harvard has recently introduced a ban on sexual relationships between undergraduate students and faculty in order to maintain professionalism and the core value of learning. The incentive to ban student-faculty relationships is to help prevent sexual misconduct on campuses. Harvard joins other universities, including Arizona State University and Yale University, in changing their policy on this issue. The Foghorn considers Harvard’s stance on the ban and on these policies. Continue reading Harvard Bans Student-FACULTY Relationships→
USF Professor Kimberly Rae Connor was recently profiled in the February 17 issue of the Foghorn. The story ran on the occasion of a display of artwork owned by Connor in the Thatcher Gallery in Gleeson Library. The profile, which appeared in the Scene section of the issue, was run with several inaccuracies, as described by the professor below.
Please publish the following corrections of fact in the recent profile of me:
I own 13 pieces of art that are part of a series that was originally displayed at the Hirshhorn Museum but which I purchased from the artist’s New York dealer at the time, Max Protetch Galleries.
In addition to providing the art for the show, I curated the show, helped install the show, organized supporting lectures and gave public and classroom lectures about the exhibit. Glori Simmons and Amber Dennis of the Thacher Gallery did more than anyone to make this exhibit happen.
My academic training is in religion and literature but much of my scholarship is in African American topics. I teach in the College of Business and Professional Studies as a member of the Department of Organizations, Leadership, and Society; most of my students are degree completion students enrolled in professional studies programs.
The art I own that is hanging in the gallery did not go unframed. The current exhibit is the first time for the art to be on public display but I have documentation that the work was carefully framed to archival standards almost as soon as I acquired the art. The sums attributed to the purchase price and the framing costs are inaccurate.
I graduated from a joint Ph.D in religion and literature, two fields that required me to take qualifying exams in aesthetics. I am trained in literary and aesthetic theory. A chapter on Ligon’s art is included in a book I wrote on the slave narrative tradition and liberation theology. I published the first peer reviewed academic analysis of Ligon’s work.
I am not a collector. I came into possession of the art because I was a working academic doing research on a topic that brought me into contact with an artist whose sensibilities matched mine. I am donating the art to my undergraduate alma mater.
Kimberly Rae Connor, Ph.D.
University of San Francisco
On Nov. 3, James Wiser, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, sent out an email to the heads of the departments at USF, explaining there would be a schedule change that would be put in place for Fall 2010. The email was leaked to media students and news spread fast around campus. Since then, there have been a protest and a petition by students and faculty against the schedule change.
In the initial email, Wiser stated the schedule change would be taking place for the following reasons: 1) Difficulty in finding space for current classes. 2) Insufficient classroom size. 3) Because of lack of space, lounges and conference rooms were converted into classrooms. 4) Lack of classrooms makes it difficult to offer new classes for students. 5) Classes are overlapping too often creating scheduling conflicts. 6) USF wants to add more two-credit classes and with the lack of space it makes it difficult.
For these reasons, the administration is implementing a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule and will in effect shorten Monday, Wednesday classes to 50 minutes instead of the current 75 minute length. This equals to about the same amount of class time, but the classes would take place three times a week rather than two. This change will free up more classrooms and allow more sections of classes and more two-credit classes to be added.
Some students and faculty members take issue with this inevitable change for the fall semester for a variety of reasons.
Many Students do not want Friday classes because it would ruin their three-day weekends that they have become accustomed to. Let’s face it, for students Thursdays are the new Fridays. Students have adjusted to having Thursday as their designated party night, and with the new schedule, might show up to class “under the weather” or not at all. There is also the more legitimate argument that Friday classes conflicts with students’ jobs or internships. Many students need to work to make money for tuition and rent, or even just spending cash. Whether their job is on or off campus, having Fridays free to work a long shift is very important. Likewise, with internships, which students need to gain valuable work experience, they almost always need to come in on Fridays to work a full shift.
Professors do not want their class time on Mondays and Wednesdays to be cut from two long classes to three short classes because shorter classes will make it harder for them to include their entire lesson plans. Media studies students, for example, watch a lot of media content in their classes. Having a shorter period would make it less likely for them to see the content and also have a quality discussion about it, which is imperative for their major. Science majors require longer classes for lab work, and visual or performing arts disciplines would find shorter periods unsatisfactory for their studio/workshop needs. Professors who commute from outside the city also find issue with Friday classes because it makes them have to come to campus an extra day.
The Foghorn staff believes the schedule change needs a some adjustment and would take some getting used to, but there are more positives than negatives from the change. Ultimately it seems necessary for USF student education to be improved. We come to college with the intent to get the best possible education we can. Without sufficient classroom space it is impossible for the learning environment to thrive. Having more choices and opportunities to explore also facilitates student learning. With the new schedule it makes this possible for students to have more classes and varied learning opportunities.
A petite blonde clutching a megaphone larger than her head steps up on a table in the middle of Harney Plaza. A crowd of students, most waving posters and distributing leaflets, silences at this action. She shouts into the megaphone and the crowd below shouts back.
On this Thursday, April 16, during dead hour at USF, students are out protesting not the latest international war or human rights injustice; rather they are fighting for the job of an adjunct sociology professor named Andrej Grubacic, who, after one academic year with the University, has not been asked to return next fall.
The young woman with the megaphone, a sophomore named Madeline Scarp, shouts, “He’s not coming back and it’s a shame!” The crowd erupted in response.
Grubacic was signed on as a temporary professor in the sociology department with a one-year contract in fall 2008. His contract, he said, was revised sometime thereafter, under what he called “somewhat mysterious” circumstances. He taught two classes as an adjunct professor this spring, as well as advising nine directed studies.
Despite being told his student evaluations “were very impressive,” and being nominated for both professor and mentor of the year awards, he was informed in February that there would not be a space for him next year. Grubacic was surprised; he had turned down two job offers at other universities believing he would continue employment at USF. Students, who had grown to love his style of teaching and mentorship, were shocked as well.
Many students would feel apathetic about fighting for a professor’s job. What makes this professor different, the protesting students said, is his manner of teaching, leading interactive discussion courses and mentoring them on how to become involved with political processes.
Senior Jennifer Herrera, one of Grubacic’s students, said, “He’s very passionate. It’s a pleasure to hear someone talk passionately about issues.”
After taking multiple forms of action to express their feelings about Grubacic’s job, including repeatedly meeting with Dean of College of Arts and Sciences Jennifer Turpin and Sociology Department Chair Steven Zavestoski, presenting their case to the ASUSF Senate, gathering signatures on a petition, forming a Facebook group, distributing literature around campus and holding the protest last Thursday, students were met with the same response from the administration: that there is simply not a spot for him. Herrera said, “I think this is really about a bigger issue: students should have a say.”
Grubacic echoed this statement. “What [the students] are asking is, I believe, a question of the first order: what is the role of students in collective life of the university? Shouldn’t their collective voice account for something more? What does that famous phrase ‘student power’ mean?” He asked. “I believe that this whole ‘movement,’ if we can call it that, is about something far more important then keeping one professor.”
Turpin, who helps oversee the staff in the College of Arts and Sciences, maintains that there simply is not space or funding to keep Grubacic at the University. She said, “Mr. Grubacic was meant to serve as a temporary instructor while others (full-time faculty in Sociology) were on leave. But all of the excellent faculty who were on leave last year will be returning in the fall, and thus we have to resume paying their full time salaries.” These professors not only require the salary that would go to Grubacic, but also will be instructing the classes he would teach, she explained. “All of them teach in globalization – Mr. Grubacic’s main specialization and the area in which he’s been teaching for us.”
Still, many students maintain that in a case where so many students are pleading for a professor to stay, the University should take note and make things fit somehow.
Junior Megan Langley, a student of Grubacic who participated in the protest, said, “We understand that his contract expired, but we’re asking for a re-hire. We’re the students, and we should get some say in who teaches us. It’s just logical.”
Turpin addressed this point, “Student opinion is very valuable. When USF recruits new full-time continuing faculty, students are included in the hiring process. They also play a role when they evaluate faculty at the end of each semester. Student opinion is not the only variable involved in creating new positions at USF, however.” She said there were too many logistical impossibilities with this case: no money designated to pay his salary and no classes open for him to teach.
Some still do not accept this answer. Rumors arose that Grubacic was not being rehired because of his radical political ideology. Chair of Sociology Department Steven Zavestoski said this had absolutely no influence on his not being rehired, but Grubacic said he believes this with certainty. “Do I believe it? Yes. Do I have proof? No,” he said. Grubacic said in fall when he began teaching, other professors accused him of “organizing” his students, and molding them into a “cult” following.
But if Grubacic did help his students learn to organize, he says he had no part in their latest cause. “It came as a surprise, a beautiful surprise. I am very happy to have been able to encourage it, by teaching students to think for themselves.” He said, “It is one of the most heart-warming and moving experiences of my life.”
This year will be the first time the Mentor of the Year award will be given to a faculty and/or staff person by the Provost Council at USF. The award will highlight the accomplishments of a nominee who goes above and beyond in his/her embodiment of the “Vision, Mission, and Values” of USF.
A challenging component about transitioning into college is finding out how to access good resources. It goes beyond making friends with your next- door neighbors and getting to know the best social scenes. Junior Ramsey Hanna looked back at his experience at USF as a freshman and said, “When I got here I already knew where certain parties happen and who to know, but it really wasn’t hard finding the adequate resources I needed to get to where I wanted to go. Developing a comfortable relationship with faculty members was easy.” Hanna said that his experience at USF is great due to the great help of his professors and advisors who made themselves accessible and helped him establish himself academically.
Provost Jim Wiser said, “We wanted to highlight the importance of advising and counseling and bring it to the attention of the community.” He explained the potential for two awards if the nominations allow, one for a faculty member of USF and another for a staff member. Every year a survey is given to graduating seniors in order to rate the quality of performance of faculty. Wiser pointed out that the quality is great according to recent surveys, but there is never anything done to congratulate the hard work of the great men and women that work at USF.
Although faculty have been great avenues for mentorship, there are a lot of staff members that are eligible for nomination. Alumnus Luis Cervantes from USF said, “I was a resident advisor when I was at USF and it requires a lot of dedication and the ability to want to be a resource for incoming freshmen. I would nominate somebody in that position for the award.”
Lara Hansen, assistant to the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, is now accepting nominations for the Mentor of the Year Award. The submissions must be in letter format describing why the nominee deserves the award and must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 10, 2009. A ceremony for the winners will be held on May 13.