Viewpoint: Opinion on Professors Leaving

Kaleigh Bozick

College of Wooster, you have broken your promise. I came to this school seeking mentorship, seeking a “community of independent minds, working together,” only to be robbed of mentorship at every turn. I’m a rising senior, double major and have taken courses outside my majors. With this multidisciplinary education provided, the most striking trend lies with the revolving door of assistant professors. Since my first year at Wooster, I’ve taken no more than two courses with the same professor. I’m a Teaching Assistant for an English course this semester, so I hoped to have a working relationship with my advisor for another year. The College did not renew her contract.

Attempting to find another advisor to work with, I contacted my English Junior I.S. advisor, only to discover that she would be taking a job elsewhere. For my second major, my current advisor will only be helping students in another discipline, and I need to start making new connections as a junior. Whoever decides which professors’ contracts are renewable does not consider the harm inflicted on the students who go here for mentorship opportunities. The College of Wooster promotes its “core values” of liberal arts traditions and diversity and inclusion with mascot changes and statistics on international students. When it comes down to it, they choose in-person classes over keeping Black faculty members.

Black and POC students are desperately missing POC mentors, especially women of color. Considering Wooster provides so much financial aid for lower-income students, finding mentors who understand the institutional and complex struggles with balancing private higher education is incredibly frustrating. All this within a school with students from the complete opposite tax bracket. And, considering Wooster markets and profits off of so many international students choosing this school, it is interesting that the school vehemently disagrees with online classes and does not do more to support minority faculty and students. Prioritizing a shuffle of professors and rotating mentors/advisors around does not seem sustainable to Wooster’s current goal of fostering relationships between faculty and students.

But, the problem needs to change, as no one can institutionally fix this quick turn-around of associates or visiting professors. First, professors are overwhelmed with the amount of work required for their salary. They also form new courses every semester and are presented with a lack of opportunities in Wooster. On top of that, Wooster promotes diversity and inclusion, but faculty and students are isolated from the town for fear of hate crimes and violence. What keeps the staff here if they love the students yet fight against everything else?

A solution could include pairing each student with a member of the career center, paying faculty more and encouraging hiring tenured faculty to deliver on the promise of mentorship offered for students. I know the staff here supports me fully, yet how much can be done when everything is out of my own and my mentors’ hands? Who truly has the agency at this institution, if not teachers here, and not the people who pay for this education? The College of Wooster could increase faculty hiring and firing transparency. They could also listen to groups of minorities on how they want their education to look and include the students in the mentorship process. Therefore, it is up to students to regain their agency on who they want to work with and form a working relationship.

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