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Dear Editor,

Jacob Leveton said in his letter to the editor, regarding Core 320 and Core 340 [Oct. 1] that “staff members,” presumably in his business major, had told him that the science departments have been “very aggressive” in defending these interdisciplinary core classes, because they “don’t want to lose their jobs.”

Mr. Leveton’s business mentors are doing him and the University a great disservice in insulting the integrity and commitment to the University’s mission of the dedicated science faculty, who team up with faculty from the English, history, political science, art, social sciences, religion and philosophy, management, economics and sports science to create and teach these interdisciplinary courses on The Human Condition and Toward a Sustainable Planet. The faculty who teach in the core program choose to take time away from teaching some of the classes in their own major disciplines to meet this need. Additional part-time faculty are also recruited for the core courses.

Mr. Leveton also indicated disappointment in not finding anything from these courses to help him in his business career.  That is a shame. I know other students who have had very different experiences. For example, last year a senior economics major in our 340 course became so excited about integrating economics, ecology and management together, after graduation he honed his knowledge through two internships and then gained entrance to a graduate program in conservation management at a major California university.

Another student returned to tell of her success in convincing her employer to give her responsibility for designing and implementing a model recycling program at their plant. Dozens of students have expressed appreciation to me and other faculty for the challenges, opportunities and new perspectives they have met and engaged in these interdisciplinary core courses.

It may be cliché, but it still rings true. So much of what we get out of education depends on how much we put into it.

Dan Merritt
Professor of Zoology and Environmental Science

Dear Editor,

As faculty of ULV Athens, we would like to express our shock, anger, and heartbreak to our students and their parents [“ULV Athens campus closes abruptly,” Sept. 24]. A decision took place on Friday, Sept. 17 (two days before our school was to open for the 2004-2005 academic year), to officially strip our campus of the University of La Verne name, and with it our status for 29 years as an accredited American institution of higher education in Athens, Greece, formally approved by WASC. Dismay, disbelief, and bewilderment at this decision, taken with no prior notice by the University of La Verne in California, has not changed the reality of this loss. The facts are these: with enrollments higher than they were the previous September when we moved our Halandri campus from Kefalari, and with no forewarning or formal preparations, a letter from the La Verne representative visiting Athens from California was given to students late Friday afternoon informing them of California’s decision to terminate any and all collaborations with the Somateo Collegio La Verne, which was responsible for our salaries and legal jurisdiction under Greek law, as enrollments were still taking place for the following Monday, Sept. 20.

We the faculty of the former ULV Athens were never officially told of this decision by ULV California nor did the Somateo La Verne make any formal statement regarding this decision. We the faculty who built the program in Athens, we with whom the students chose to work despite the high tuition costs, were never thanked, consulted or referred to in any capacity as negotiations and arrangements were made by ULV California for our students to enroll in another American institution in Athens. We, the faculty of the former ULV Athens, proud of the students we graduated – students who felt challenged and rewarded by our program – had no words to alleviate their bitterness when they wanted to know why they were being asked to make, in one student’s words, “second best” choices.

Whatever the reasons ULV California had for taking this action, the brutality with which this decision was taken remains unexplained. The financial review which had the consequence of closing the school was conducted in late August, as opposed to an earlier date; the results were presented to the administration and the Somateo La Verne on Friday afternoon of Sept. 17. We faculty were never presented with the official results of the financial review, conducted by the accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, until the decision to close the school was already taken. If the former ULV Athens was in such alleged fiscal danger, why did ULV California not conduct the financial review at an earlier date so that the faculty could have had the summer months to make decisions about other job and accreditation options, and so students could have the time to investigate alternative academic solutions?

The ruthlessness with which ULV California has dealt with their financial problems with the Somateo La Verne has left students in terrible emotional and academic distress, and teachers and staff devastated. We promise to investigate the appropriate channels and take the necessary measures to answer to these damages. Having voiced our pain and compassion for the difficulties in which our students have unexpectedly found themselves, we the faculty of the former ULV Athens wish to thank you, our students, for the years that enriched our lives; your presence in and out of the classroom gave us much to be inspired by. May you remember us, as we will surely remember you, and may you carry the best of your learning experiences at the former University of La Verne in Athens into a future that will embrace and reward you.

Members of the Faculty of the Former University of La Verne, Athens

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