Dr. Kim Evans Petition Letter
Dear President Joel and Provost Lowengrub:
At the previous Town Hall meeting, the question of Professor Kim Evans' recent denial of tenure was raised. This administrative decision has raised serious concerns among the student body. We trust that it is the administration's top priority to provide the women of Stern College with the most highly qualified, dedicated faculty members available. The following concerns have therefore arisen:
- The decision not to tenure a professor of Professor Evans' caliber exacerbates a disconcerting divide between the men and women's colleges, and indeed between Yeshiva University and other institutions. At Yeshiva College, for example, the criteria for granting tenure are much more clearly delineated and there is a dedicated timeline for the tenure process. Moreover, there appears to be a different set of expectations for the standards for fulfilling faculty positions between the two colleges; at Stern College, candidates who have risen to the top of national searches have either not been hired or are being let go without reason or cause, and long-term contracts have been offered to people who did not participate in national searches. It is evident that national searches raise standards, and also that the administration is not properly supporting those faculty, like Professor Evans, who not only secured their positions by appropriate means but who are widely published, active scholars with a demonstrated record of teaching excellence. Without clearly delineated criteria for granting tenure, without a formal and transparent procedure for processing tenure applications, and without clear evidence that decisions are being made regarding the best interests of Stern students, the hiring and firing process becomes arbitrary and personal. Stern students deserve the chance to be taught by the best professors the country has to offer.
- Students seek dedicated long-term teachers, whom students can depend on for continued academic support (in the form of letters of recommendation, advice, etc) critical for their own career advancement. Professor Evans has been exactly that -- at once a mentor and role model -- and her dismissal from the department is causing Stern students to lose one of the most exciting researchers and well-loved teachers in the department. Most Stern College students are only undergraduates for three years. During this precious but brief time, it is critical that students have access to dedicated Professors of high quality who will help them with their career options long after their undergraduate years have passed.
- Professor Evans has been especially loved, cherished, and respected by students in the S. Daniel Abraham Honors program. Students of every major recall her Freshman Composition Class as one of the most enriching, broadening classes ever taken. For an institution that prides itself on the opportunities it provides to its Honors Students, removing a professor of Professor Evans' caliber would be denying the top students at the University the level of education to which they are entitled. These are students who could have easily chosen to go elsewhere, but chose Stern because of the confidence they had in the quality of education they would receive at Stern and at the university. For the sake of future Honors students as well as current Honors students, maintaining this confidence should be an utmost priority.
Although a recent appeal took place to reassess the procedural errors of the process, the three-person committee is strictly advisory. The decision to keep Professor Evans lies in your hands alone.
We, the below signed, speak out now at this critical juncture because we have confidence that the administration will act with the students' best academic interests in mind. Granting Professor Evans tenure after the recent appeal is a chance to demonstrate the administration's commitment to excellence in undergraduate education. We, the student body, need to sense that Stern College is providing us with the best education possible.
The decision lies in your hands. Our concerns have been given voice. We trust you are our faithful representatives.
With the Utmost Respect,
The Stern Student Body
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