Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Admin yet to ease uncertainty in teach-out plan

Sam Hill | The Free Press

Posted on October 06, 2014 in News
By Emma James

Programs eliminated by the board of trustees are still waiting for administrative action to proceed with the enactment of a teach-out plan for students. Progress has been made, but uncertainty still remains.

According to Kent Ryden, professor and director of American and New England studies, the dean’s office sent out a letter to all current students asking if they plan to finish their degrees, and informing them that they would have two years to do so.

“The dean’s office has been able to plan out the sequence of required courses for students, but not the elective courses,” said Ryden. “They’ve just indicated that there will be elective courses available each semester, but at this point nobody knows what those elective courses will be, nobody knows who will be advising students on theses and independent studies and internships.”

Ryden indicated that the teach-out plan as it has been developed thus far has had no consultation with the ANES faculty.

“Our students are still left with a lot of questions and a lot of unknowns, and I’m still not able to answer them. It doesn’t seem like their needs and interests were fully taken into account,” said Ryden. “A lot of our students are pretty upset.”

David Jester, a current ANES student, expressed concern at the uncertainty of it all.

“Since I’m doing a thesis track, it could take me a year and a half or even two to three years to finish,” said Jester. “When I entered the program we were supposed to be given six years to complete, so that would’ve allowed me until 2017. As of right now, it looks like they’re only giving us two years which goes against the student guidelines.”

Stephen Pollock, professor of geosciences, was unable to comment on the teach-out plan for his program, indicating that everything is “too preliminary” to release at this point.

“What happens ultimately rests in the upper ranks of the administration. The provost or president will eventually sign off,” said Pollock. “We may know something more after the provost releases his academic restructuring plans on Monday.”

Ryden attributes the uncertainty to a “poorly thought out elimination process.”

Ryden explained that it is possible to complete the program in two years, but many students are nontraditional or part time and only take a class or two per semester. A student in this demographic may require the allotted six years for completion.

“If this is the case, I feel the students have legal recourse. When I entered this program I entered under the auspices that I had six years to graduate,” said Jester. “Theses take a long time, sometimes longer than just a semester. I feel like they did this very brashly and they wanted to do this without thinking and just want people to lay down and play dead.”

If Ryden was involved in the teach-out plan process, he explained, he would take into account the needs of the students more.

“I would try to involve the students in the process or at least get a good sense of what would work best for them and would try to bring more specificity to the teach out plan,” said Ryden. “That is, eliminate a lot of the uncertainty. Establish what the faculty resources would be and what the curricular resources will be.”

“I’ve already invested enough of my life’s money into this,” said Jester. “I would definitely be seeking legal action if I was not allotted the amount of time promised.”