With impending changes to college personnel and curriculum, students and faculty are grasping for clarity in an unclear environment.
Because of vague reports from administration and faculty committee members regarding impending faculty cuts, many on campus are unaware of where they stand.
Marc Joseph, professor of philosophy, noted the problem with the current communication lines when he said, “We need to get a lot more open communication with the administration [to] see where problems lie, and see if we can come up with some compromises.”
These compromises are centered on possible cuts to faculty whose contracts will be up in December. Unfortunately, no decision has been made as to which departments will receive the cuts, although many in the modern languages and literature department believe that they will be hardest hit by cuts.
“There is an agreement among the faculty as to the revision of the general education requirement and that there be a 1 year language requirement in the undergraduate degree. So, while I do expect and my guess is that there will be cuts in the shorter term, I would expect that in the broader term that department [modern languages and literature] will be expanded,” said Joseph.
Joseph said that although everything at this stage is preliminary, he is not worried about his department being affected by any cuts.
“Philosophy is a small program and all of us in the smaller departments are concerned. But I think that the college recognizes that we are essential to a Liberal Arts education.”
Kirsten Saxton, women’s studies professor, didn’t feel as positive about the situation, especially because she is one of the many professors at Mills who is on a teaching contract. “Everything is speculation. To me, everything is a rumor right now. So, I don’t even want to talk about it. I’m on a renewable contract; but even if I had tenure I wouldn’t want to comment.”
Melinda Micco, associate professor of ethnic studies and member of the faculty executive committee said she understood why both students and faculty are apprehensive right now. However, she said that no matter what changes the school makes, there will always be people who are affected.
“This is definitely an issue of concern and we can make changes but we have to work collaboratively. I did some of my greatest activism work as a student at UC Berkeley which is an even greater Bureaucracy,” she said.
Joseph added that although students have been very vocal, ultimately faculty may be most affected.
“I certainly would like to see input from students and I would guess that the president is too. Cuts will affect everybody, but it wouldn’t be quite true to say students will be affected most. The people who get the pink slips will,” he said.