Letter to the Editor

North Wind Staff

Letter to the North Wind:

In response to your article about “rumors,” I’d like to say I am not a rumor, I am now a former NMU faculty member. I have taught at NMU for five years, and I found out in mid-September  that my term contract will not be renewed.

As a result of my non-renewal, two sections of MA171 will not be offered this winter semester. MA 171 is a required course for many students in their degree plan and a popular Liberal Studies course. Last winter semester, all three sections of MA171 that I taught were filled to capacity, and I had to refuse many who wanted and needed this class, especially in the winter semester in order to graduate on time.  In fact, this has been my experience EVERY semester for the past five years since I have been teaching this course.  One of the hardest things I’ve had to do since coming to NMU has been to turn away students who desperately need this class to fulfill their degree requirements.

According to your article, one of President Erickson’s suggestions to those of us who aren’t “tenured” is that we strive to attain this cherished status to guarantee “job security.” Well, I’ve been a tenured full professor at Texas A&M but I’ve always been a strong believer that “job security” should be a result of exceptional “job performance.” NMU is fortunate to have many exceptional adjuncts and contingents who simply teach because they love what they do and not for a “guaranteed” paycheck.  It is indeed a sad situation that they may now be denied this opportunity because they aren’t “tenured.”

I am among those who are here because we love to teach. I came out of retirement because I found that teaching and sharing my knowledge with students has been one of the most fulfilling experiences in my life.  It extends far beyond the accolades and awards I received for my research and teaching during my 20 year tenure at Texas A&M, Mississippi State and the University of Georgia.

I have frequently volunteered to participate in the parent orientation summer sessions.

At these sessions I always poll the parents as to their reasons for choosing NMU.  The response has been overwhelmingly because they felt their child would receive greater individual attention and interaction with their professors. Those of us who aren’t under the pressures of attaining “tenured” status are often the ones who have the greatest opportunity to provide this individual attention to students. We may now be losing many of those special people who are just here because they love it.

I am not the only one whose contract is not being renewed, and there will likely be many more non-renewals at the end of the winter semester.

While I am concerned about faculty members losing their jobs, I am even more concerned about the students caught in this crisis.

What happens now to those 70 plus students I taught last winter and whose email requests could not be granted? Will these students just “disappear” next semester?  Were they all part of the “400+” students who didn’t enroll this year?

Or did some of those go to Bay de Noc and Tech or other schools that saw an increase in enrollment this year?

To my former students, I wish you well in all your future endeavors. To the students I would have taught this winter, I am so very sorry I will not have the chance to share a classroom with you.

Sincerely,

Olga Herman, PhD

Department of Mathematics and Computer Science