<< Front page News May 14, 2004

Tenure positions filled

Eight new tenure track positions were filled in the Arts and Sciences division this year. All positions are replacements for other tenure-track faculty who have either retired or resigned.

“This is an exceptional group of new faculty who will be excellent teachers and scholars,” Dean of Arts and Sciences Clayton Koppes said. “They come from the best graduate programs and exhibit those qualities of intellectual engagement and desire to teach that are the hallmark of Oberlin faculty. All are our first choices. It’s also gratifying that two are Asian-American.”

Warren Liu will teach an English first-year seminar on L.A. and popular culture in the fall and a course on contemporary comparative American ethnic literature in the spring. Liu is the third professor hired to replace the four faculty members the English department has lost in the last three years.

Grace An will teach a survey of French cinema in the fall and a course on the French New Wave in the spring.

“We’re very excited,” French Department Chair Janice Zinser said. “For someone who’s just got her Ph.D, she already has a healthy record of teaching film theory and French film.”

Peter Thomas will teach applied mathematics in the fall through a course in computational neuroscience and will offer courses in mathematical biology and mathematical physics in the future.

Professors on a tenure track are generally reviewed for reappointment in their third year of teaching. If they are reappointed, the decision on whether to grant tenure is usually made in the sixth year.

Koppes said there were many important reasons for granting tenure.

“Tenure has historically been a very important guarantee of academic freedom,” Koppes said. “The essence of the academy is that anyone should be able to follow the truth where they believe it leads and be able to express their views accordingly. Tenure is the standard that all respectable academic institutions use for the bulk of their faculty. If we were not to offer tenure, we would not be able to attract anything like the quality of faculty we have.”

Koppes said it was important to resist the trend among institutions to make long-term appointments of professors not eligible for tenure.

“Generally speaking, faculty you hire who are not on a tenure track will not have the same quality as tenure track faculty,” Koppes said. “The institution has less commitment to them and they have less of a commitment to the institution.”

Tenure track professors have also been hired in biology, chemistry, history, physics and psychology.


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