Three Unstaffed Courses Call My Name, WIU Doesn’t Hear

When I look at the screen shots I took of Western Illinois University course offerings, hope presents itself. There’s my position!  In plain sight!

After two colleagues in my teaching areas, Dr. Shouse and Dr. Suvak, resigned, I searched course offerings for a position for myself.   The UPI contract assigns to the University this job of searching for a position for laid off professors (See Article 24.4), but I wasn’t confident they would fulfill their responsibility, so I did it myself. In March, 2017, I found three unstaffed courses in my teaching and research areas:

edit Suvak and Shouse courses unstaffed
Shouse and Suvak had resigned, leaving two unstaffed courses in Women’s Studies.

Span 325 had not been assigned a faculty member.

Three courses per semester constitute a tenured position:

  1. WS 190, Introduction to Women’s Studies
  2. WS 280, Lesbianism and Gender Identity
  3. Span 325, Spanish Conversation

For several years, Foreign Languages and Literatures has been short on qualified Spanish faculty and has struggled to staff this upper level Conversation course. They have previously borrowed faculty from outside the department to teach this course.

Suvak, who resigned last January, had been teaching Women’s Studies and Foreign Languages.  I have an MA in Women’s Studies, a PhD in Spanish, and 20 years of teaching, research, and service in these areas, so this position was calling my name.  Evidently the University did not hear–they assigned Spanish 325, as well as WS 190, to instructors.  After I reminded the assistant provost that I was well-qualified to teach WS 280, it disappeared from the offerings.

A comparable faculty member who had earned the same rank as I (we were completing tenure files when we received layoff notices) saw himself reinstated after his department colleague retired.  Shouldn’t I have seen the same in the wake of two resignations?  Why the differential treatment?

My minimal associate professor salary will not make or break WIU’s budget.  The absence or presence of my teaching load will neither destroy nor perfect the faculty “realignment” this president seeks to implement.

So, I wonder, how do those in power justify their violation of tenure?

When someone violates a commitment to me, when they overlook and do not hear me, or recognize my value as a human being, I feel pain, fear and anger.  That is natural and normal– part of the human condition.  I have been learning many ways to cope with the waves of pain. A daily run with Maz or a friend always helps.


Maz is always ready for a run.

WIU has yet to follow the arbitrator’s July ruling.  The provost sent me a letter entitled “award letter,” but it contained only the same old claim I’ve heard for a year–that they’ve searched for a position for me, but were not able to find one.

My colleagues tell me that this Fall, WIU’s president has announced two new goals: find jobs for everyone in the WIU “family” and diversify the faculty.  I became part of the WIU family in 1987, went away for travel and graduate study, and then, in 2004, returned to teach. I am a woman who teaches and researches about diversity.  My reinstatement would facilitate the realization of both the president’s goals.




From Simpkins Hall to Home Office–and my graduation from WIU

After learning yesterday that the arbitration of my layoff from Western Illinois Universtiy will extend until a resolution somehow presents itself, I reckoned with the fact that my life could remain on hold for yet another 21 months, or longer.  Who knows?  So I unpacked some boxes of feminist memoirs and theory from  my office in Simpkins Hall and shelved them in my home office.  Then I set up this blog, so that I can keep you up-to-date on the arbitration process.IMG_0670

I am the first and only tenured professor at WIU in recorded history to be effectively laid off–more on this history soon.  Out of that seemingly random December 2015 group of laid off professors with tenure or tenure “in hand” (requirements completed, but application not), I am the only one of the 15 of us who is currently without a contract.  How is it that I am the one making history this way?

I was proud of my WIU degree.  In 1991, WIU was a “liberal” choice!  Meaning a good place to get a well-rounded university education.  Now, according to the yard signs, WIU is the “right” choice!–right, as in not left or liberal.  I barely recognize this institution today and I feel a profound sense of loss for the century of state investment in an institution that had earned the name “university.”  What does an institution have to do to continue to merit the title of “university”?  IMG_2021.JPGMy WIU diploma and the medals I wore at graduation.

WIU graduationAbove:  I celebrated with my Mom and Dad after the graduation in Western Hall.  We pose in the parsonage of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), across the street from the fire station in Macomb.  My father, Jim Stovall, had given the invocation at graduation and afterwards, he wondered if anyone had noticed that he had given thanks for astrology, when he intended to say astronomy; after all, WIU has never offered astrology classes, but given our current shift away from the liberal arts, maybe now is the time to start.

In 1991, I trusted WIU.  I could rely on WIU to fulfill its commitments.  What now?