Two Faculty Members Denied Tenure
On April 15, several faculty members received the results of their tenure review. denied tenure to current Assistant Professor of English Carina Hoffpauir and Assistant Professor of Religion Molly Jensen.
Both Hoffpauir and Jensen were evaluated as on track in all three considered areas at both two-year benchmarks. In addition, both did not receive specific explanations regarding their denial of tenure.
“I was read a prepared script and ushered out a side door [in the Dean of the Faculty’s office],” Hoffpauir said.
In addition, many campus members have expressed surprise at Hoffpauir’s and Jensen’s denials of tenure.
According to Elaine Craddock, chair of the Religion department, “the Religion faculty strongly supported Dr. Jensen as a continuing faculty member at Southwestern.” Several students and student groups opposed Hoffpauir and Jensen’s tenure denials, writing letters to administration, creating social media groups with students with similar reactions, and personally expressing support to Hoffpauir and Jensen. Dean Gaunder has met with students who have contacted administration regarding the tenure denials and explained the expected qualifications of professors seeking tenure.
Financial reconsiderations, administrative restructuring, and administrative transitions have occurred during the recent six-year tenure track process. The university reconsidered fiscal plans and budget cuts, resulting in the removal of the accounting major for incoming first-years. Several administrative positions underwent transitions, such as the presidential transition from Jake Schrum to Edward Burger in 2012, the removal of the Provost position after Jim Hunt’s departure, the shift of the Dean of the Faculty and Chief Academic Officer positions onto Alisa Gaunder, and the introduction of assistant deans.
However, according to Gaunder, the decisions about tenure had no correlation with these transitions and financial status of the university.
“In this difficult moment, it has been a comfort to me to have received so much love and support from students, faculty, and staff. I’m especially appreciative of the many kind messages I’ve received, and the encouragement to keep going in spite of this setback,” Hoffpauir said.