Friday, October 10, 2008

Political Science students meet with Provost

Well in a meeting with a fellow student we only drew maybe 5 or 6 students. Meeting with the school provost on Wednesday there were about maybe 20-25 students. It wasn't enough I thought because surely there would be more of us with issues regarding whether or not they'll graduate on-time. Indeed there had to have been more concern about what was going on with the department.

The main issue that was covered in this meeting was staffing.

Well there was a rehash over what happened to those professors who left. A clarification if you will about each individual professor's exit. It was better information that was had earlier. Some was no surprise at all.

In the case of one professor Dr. Davis, the Provost said that he believed that Davis had just decided it was time to go. In the Maroon Tiger he said that he had some issues, but according to the Provost, the professor was always discontented about something. It was just who he was, perhaps it was really nothing more to what happened to Dr. Davis other than he was old and he was ready to get on with the next thing. So he did.

He mentioned the Political Theory professor, Dr. Vaughn who apparently decided it was best for her career to move on since she was denied tenure. It was unfortunate since many liked her as a professor and according to many they believed she cared about her students. Something that many might complain is far and few with the college's faculty. It was with her that this whole crisis began to unravel.

Then there was this other professor Dr. Taqi. Well, ummm, the Provost said he had to be careful with that one. The basic rumor was officially confirmed that Taqi who is mostly a professor of International Studies couldn't prove he had the degrees he said he had. He went to a foreign university and well I understand that he had issues in getting his credentials in order. Well whatever happened he's no longer a professor at the college. The Poli. Sci. chair even said that Taqi didn't want to leave. I suppose Taqi had no choice in this matter.

Oh I should add, perhaps I mentioned this in an earlier post. The Provost met with us instead of the College President. It was said at first because of scheduling however it didn't sit well with those of us who were getting an agenda together because the President said he'll talk to the Political Science majors. For whatever reason the Provost was asked to talk to the students and it was good that he came and answered the questions to the best of his ability.

There were a lot of other issues to come out like finding new professors to fill these vacancies and what that should entail. Whether or not in filling these vacancies were their issues with resources especially in attracting professors to Morehouse and what that entailed. Indeed we talked about lax recordkeeping as far as grades by one departed professor. Especially important for juniors and seniors were whether or not they'll get the classes they need to graduate.

I like the selling points they use to attract people to teach at Morehouse. They want professors who are relatively young. Those who are largely in this to get paid are not going to teach at Morehouse. The selling point is that a prospective professor with contribute to the community and dare I say the world in teaching at an HBCU that is also all-male. Morehouse is the school of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who made great contributions to the world. The point here is that there is more to teaching at Morehouse than getting paid perhaps there are other things that are and probably should be more satisfying than a paycheck.

They mentioned that at a school like say Harvard or Yale with their general size. Professors are generally expected to do research to support their teaching. They might have to publish more than they would have to at Morehouse. You still have to publish academic research as a Morehouse professor but the workload probably won't be as much as at larger institutions. Thus as a professor you have more time to teach if that's what you want to do.

In talking about attracting talent and especially acquiring resources to attract talent the Provost mentioned that there should be another Capital Campaign. The last one that ended maybe a year or two ago was not where it should be according to the Provost. He wishes the school become financially independent and not have to rely on benefactors. He said that what worked in the 1950s & 60s just doesn't work anymore. In addition to attracting new talent he hopes that the school might be able to support those students who are struggling to pay for matriculation at Morehouse.

Some students had questions regarding courses they have to take over at Spelman College. Morehouse is on the three-credit system while Spelman is on the four credit system. If you are trying to pack it in at 18 hours as it common here and then you register for a course at Spelman you will go over by one credit hour. That's over load territory beyond 18 credit hours. The Provost indicated that he might see if they can work something out where that money that would otherwise pay for that extra hour could be credited towards next semester's tuition and fees.

It should be mentioned that there were two candidates who interviewed for the political theory professorship. Both had declined for whatever reasons they may have had. Whether that is for financial reasons or even concern about relocation. In one instance the Provost mentioned that it sounded like a miscommunication. On who's part is another question but they would have negotiated with this professor except that at some point the candidate just cut off negotiations and decided not to teach at Morehouse. Although for theory courses there will be an instructor next semester. There are none currently taught this semester because of the staffing shortage.

It was mentioned that Political Science is the 2nd largest major at Morehouse. We only have 6 professors on staff. Another student noted that since he's been at Morehouse there have been an average of 8 professors. He noted that other departments had more professors in their department than students majoring in that particular field.

To that the Provost said that some professor hadn't retired yet and some of this was need. If it was a science course you need instructors for the labs. In some instances once upon a time a certain field was hot but then eventually reality caught up and said department wasn't getting the enrollment it once had. Those professors left over hadn't retired yet. So thus they're still under contract to teach.

Another point is that Morehouse has a reputation. Sometimes reality can catch up to that reputation, however, it takes time for that reputation to go down. Indeed reputations are hard to build up and just as hard to pull down. Perhaps staffing shortages at Morehouse and other structural problems might prove to be a problem but the reputation isn't likely to suffer. He also noted that this is what drove many students to come to Morehouse, the reputation.

Anyway there are a lot things covered here. Hopefully the news won't be more explanation it will be progress. Perhaps by the end of the year there will be more good news for students. I hope so.

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