Why this position is not being filled and what it means for students
By: ASHLEY KATLUN
The East Asian Languages and Cultures minor is not on the chopping block according to John McIntosh, interim executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, nor is the East Asian history faculty position.
But a faculty search has been put on hold.
In the past few weeks students from the East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC) minor have been circulating a petition to save the minor and to ask Chancellor Terry Allison to reconsider the postponement of hiring a new East Asian Studies history specialist for the 2014-2015 academic year.
McIntosh said the controversy began when administrators canceled the search for a new East Asian history professor. The current East Asian Studies coordinator, Yosuke Nirei, will be leaving IU South Bend at the end of the semester.
“What happened was mostly circumstances and timing. We knew we had budget issues, we weren’t sure where that was going to go. We looked at all the searches on campus. This position, no one had come into campus yet, no one had interviewed. We had made arrangements for it, that’s true, and it was very close within a couple days of the first person coming in,” McIntosh said.
Hiring new faculty and dealing with budget issues is a complicated process. IU South Bend is not able to terminate tenured or contracted faculty to save money, so one of the ways to make cuts is by not filling positions when faculty members leave.
“We’re not going to fire anybody that is already on faculty. We are not going to do anything to their appointments, so we only have the small number of searches that are going on to really consider for a freeze on something,” McIntosh said.
The East Asian history position was not singled out, it just happened to fall within the timing of the budget cuts at IU South Bend, according to McIntosh.
“We had very few other options, many of our other searches were already completed and contracts had already been signed. There was only one other in Arts and Sciences and it was at the point of the contract being signed as well. This position, no one had even been interviewed yet,” McIntosh said.
McIntosh said adjustments will be made over the next academic year to accommodate the absence of a qualified faculty member to teach the East Asian history courses, similar to what happens when a professor goes on sabbatical.
“The 28 students that I understand are minors, we will in fact meet each of their needs over the next year in order to make sure they get what they need to complete the minor,” McIntosh said.
This may include substituting classes or hiring an adjunct professor who is qualified in this area of study.
“We will seek adjunct faculty if possible, who would be able to teach a course or two, and again that’s up to the History Department to seek those individuals out to fill courses that they hope to offer in the fall and spring of next year for their curriculum. My guess is that they are trying to do that now,” McIntosh said.
At this point, the East Asian history faculty position has not been eliminated, and IU South Bend administrators do not have the authority to discontinue a degree program, according to McIntosh.
“The faculty own the curriculum so they make the decisions about what degrees we have. [The EALC minor] is not going to disappear unless the units make different decisions over the next couple of years and decide on their own to do it,” McIntosh said.
The School of Liberal Arts and Sciences will be able to request that the position be filled next year, meaning that the newly hired faculty member would start at the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic year.
“I would call it a delay, well a little more than a delay, because [the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences] will have to propose it again next year and tell us how important it is to them, and that determines which position we will actually fill next year. I would fully expect that that would come up, if not the highest certainly among their highest rankings, for positions they would like for next year,” McIntosh said.
As far as the controversy surrounding the situation, McIntosh appreciates students’ concerns but feels the situation has been blown out of proportion.
“From my perspective, it’s not that it’s unimportant at all, but the things that have been done have gone far beyond the actual issue that we’re confronting. We didn’t say that now and forever more we cannot have someone in Asian history. We didn’t say get rid of the minor. I think the response to it produced an overreaction on people’s parts,” McIntosh said.