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CSI Professor Theodora Polito,
Former Chair of the CSI Education Department

Dear Editor,
Chalmers Clark, a professor of Philosophy was denied tenure by President Springer last December after both his department’s Appointments Committee and the College Budget and Promotions Committee recommended that she grant him tenure. At that time several faculty members appealed to President Springer to reconsider her decision. President Springer responded with silence. Her decision to deny Professor Clark tenure was and remains imprudent.
No doubt, President Springer disagrees with me, believing that she has executed those tough decisions that are at the core of leadership. Is she right? I do not believe so. Her decision is reflective of a general malaise that has taken hold of this college and others around the country. Higher education today consists of professionalism and research. Serious study of the Liberal Arts and Sciences are a residue of another time when we believed that they were effective guides for our existence.

At the center of the college is no longer the belief that the goal of higher education is the attainment of civic or practical wisdom derived from our ability to make sense together through our language. Had we still this value, Professor Clark’s students would have been listened to when they collectively went to President Springer’s office, appealing to her to grant Professor Clark tenure. They let her know how he opened up new vistas for them by guiding them to see how individuals and cultures live ideas. They made this appeal in gratitude for what had been achieved with Professor Clark and what could be achieved with him for future students. Many students, in spite of experiencing vocational pressures, hunger for the fullness of life that intellectual clarity can give. Professor Clark is known to be an unusually talented teacher able to breathe new life into some very old texts. He guides students to see how these texts provide a permanent fund of human meaning and value for making sense out of the new conditions and problems of our society.

President Springer justifies her decision on the grounds that some of Professor Clark’s scholarship appears as chapters in a book. She claims that articles in refereed journals have more scholarly weight than chapters in books. Her distinction seems trivial when weighed against the accomplishments of Professor Clark’s work but symptomatic of the ailments of the present academic culture.

I have little faith that one college president, one faculty body, one student body, can reverse a trend in our society which has created our situation. However, I write to you today because I still have hope that one college president., one faculty body, and one student body can come to their senses and see what is being lost with Professor Clark’s departure.

Associate Professor Theodora Polito
Department of Education



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