Tenure decision tough for FPC

Tenure decision tough for FPC

by David Morain

By now, you have undoubtedly read and heard nearly everything concerning Dan Bauer being denied tenure. It’s a sad state of affairs, one that has shaken the campus and deeply affected everyone connected to it. The decision has pitted faculty against faculty, student against student. I’m telling you that this senseless quibble has to stop now.

Bauer is unhappy and rightly so. Who wouldn’t be? He has put in years of service to the students of Simpson College, trying to point them in the right direction, always encouraging with praise or constructive criticism. However, sometimes this just isn’t enough.

No one has said that Bauer is a poor professor. He’s a good teacher. He’s involved with many organizations on campus. He was popular with the students on campus. Unfortunately, popularity does not equal tenure.

It seems that Nancy St. Clair, head of the English department, has been played off as the villain in this soap opera. This is unfair to say the least. Anyone thinking that she would relish the decision to deny Bauer tenure obviously doesn’t know her very well. St. Clair and Bauer were friends. They taught together, shared thoughts on literature together. For someone to question her motives in this process borders on blasphemy. To quote an old adage: It’s nothing personal, just business.

In last week’s article in The Simpsonian by Amy Zoss (“Professor denied tenure”), Bruce Haddox, dean for academic affairs, stated that “none of these decisions are made without a lot of reflection and thought.” This was not the result of some hastily made assessment of Bauer’s career. There is a long process to attain tenure. After this incident, the reasons behind such a drawn out procedure are self-evident. There are many checkpoints to go through to arrive at a decision to either grant or deny tenure. In this instance, all of those checkpoints were adhered to by those involved. Tenure was denied. The process works.

In no way am I saying that you should always yield to authority; quite the contrary, I am a firm believer in contesting the power of those in charge. To sit idly by, content to watch a system make choices that affect you without questioning the validity of such decisions, is to be satisfied with forced conformity. Therefore, I applaud those who have taken it upon themselves to stand up for Bauer. It shows the administration that its decisions have a broader impact than simply among the faculty.

This being said, I believe that the decision to deny Bauer tenure was difficult, but ultimately just. Those on the FPC spent long hours considering the matter and did not arrive at such a conclusion until the members of the committee were sure that they were doing the right thing. I believe in the wisdom of St. Clair and the committee.

Bauer is a good man and will have little trouble finding a new position at a reputable college. Just not this one.