Survey Shows Sentiments on Professors, Administratorsby Nick Stillman
This spring student senators assumed the weighty project of attempting to tally student and faculty sentiments regarding their experiences and classes with Oberlin professors and administrators. Finally, results are in, and while they may have some faculty and administrative members attempting to conceal satisfied grins, others may be sent reeling by the scathing student and faculty commentary. Among academic departments, the Department of Politics proved to be at the fore in producing satisfied students. Professor of American Politics Ron Kahn and Professor of International Politics Eve Sandberg ranked high in every student response. "Professor Kahn is a bit crazy, but ohhh, the information," one student wrote.
Students responded with equally rave reviews for Sandberg, writing commentary such as, "Professor Sandberg is great, and knows so much - she's very fair," and "Professor Sandberg is a fantastic motivator. Obviously brilliant, she knows how to lead a class. A bit tough with the reading load, though."
Professor of American Politics Paul Dawson also received favorable commentary from students. One wrote, "He is the only valuable professor at Oberlin College." Responses regarding Professor of Comparative Politics Chris Howell rounded out the sparkling reviews of the Politics department. "I think Chris values the actions that politically active students take and the way that they spend their time to enhance the community at Oberlin."
Professor of Women's Studies Ana Agathangelou garnered equally flattering replies from students complimenting the critical thinking her classes inspire. "I think that Ana teaches her classes in a way that is explicit in evaluating the contradictions that all Oberlin students experience while here," one student wrote.
Students writing on Agathangelou frequently noted their disgust with Oberlin for allowing her to leave after this academic year. "She is one of the best professors in the world and Oberlin is going to let her go," one forlorn student wrote. Another student further lashed out at the administration for their alleged lack of support for Agathangelou. "It is a terrible loss to Oberlin College and the Women's Studies Department that she is leaving. Why [is she leaving]? Because of a lack of institutional support for her style of teaching, which challenges the College's liberal ideals."
Professor of Sociology Velco Vujacic was another professor who enjoyed consistently strong commentary from every student responding about his classes. "Velco is a God among men. Never have I had an instructor like him. He combines solid knowledge of politics and sociology with colorful stories of his life in Eastern Europe," one zealous student wrote.
Although these professors, along with Professors of English Phyllis Gorfain and Sandra Zagarell, received consistently positive commentary from students, students also proved quick to point out their instructor's faults. The Department of Computer Science suffered scathing student responses, with Professors Christian Koch and Stephen Wong absorbing the brunt of one student's attack. "These two form an impressive tandem of mediocrity. The third stream Computer Science Department is one of the most useless at Oberlin. Within the department, few approach the ineptitude of these instructors."
Students proved especially unforgiving to Professor of Economics Bob Piron. "Piron doesn't really try to teach anything. Everything I learned about economics from his 101 class I learned from my tutor." Another student said Piron "inspires surface-level thinking and doesn't call for the deeper inspection that college-level course require." Finally, one student attacked Piron for his classroom personality, writing, "Piron is just mean, horrible and should get kicked out!"
Negative commentary directed at Professor of Physics John Scofield centered more around his political stance than on his teaching methods. One student responded, "The man is puritanical. He can't deal with Drag Ball, Safer Sex Night or SECURE." Another student wrote, "Schofield...is obviously not cut out to be at Oberlin. He is not accepting and is extremely judgmental."
Administrators also proved unable to escape the wrath students expressed in answering the Senate referendum. Dean of Students Peter Goldsmith faced the most consistent criticism, as responses scaled all heights of the negative spectrum, from "He hasn't done anything this year but make people mad," to "He's unresponsive and unwilling to learn about students at Oberlin."
Moreover, those responding to the survey emphasized what they viewed as Goldsmith's lack of independence from College President Nancy Dye. "Why is he the Dean of Students? He's obviously attached to Dye by some strings," one wrote. Similarly, another response read, "He is Nancy Dye's pawn." Although some responses criticized Goldsmith for his lack of connection to Oberlin's student body, however, one defended him, saying, "He is always out and about and he seems to be sincerely trying to understand our lives."
Responses also directed a significant amount of wrath toward Dye. One read, "She is a figurehead who doesn't have any real contact with the student body." Although most responses regarding Dye proved negative, few contained actual pointed criticism. One response read, "Does not listen well - too political." As with Goldsmith, Dye received a small amount of responses defending her. "I have talked to Dye. Contrary to what people say, she is both approachable and caring. It bothers me the way so many people view her negatively," one respondent wrote.
Associate Dean of Students Bill Stackman and Interim Director of Residential Life and Services Yeworkwha Belachew received the highest acclaim among administrators. Referring to Stackman, one student wrote, "Bill listens to students, respects our opinions, seeks our input and takes our concerns seriously." Another complimentary review of Stackman's work read, "He doesn't play politics like most Oberlin administrators."
Praise allotted to Belachew equaled that which students and faculty doled out to Stackman. "She cares about student needs - especially those of students of color," one wrote. Another respondent offering equally lofty praise wrote, "She understands students better than anyone else on this campus. She is respected by all communities within the school, which makes her even more important."
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