In all fairness
Editor's note: The following letter was sent to UH Provost John Ivancevich. The letter protests Ivancevich's decision to re-admit Fabian Vaksman to the university.
I am a doctoral student in history. I came to the university in the fall of 1991 with a BA in history. I received a teaching assistantship in the fall of 1992 and earned an MA in the fall of 1993. Since that time, I have completed the course work for a Ph.D. and passed the comprehensive examinations.
Now, in the middle of my fourth year, while I am researching my doctoral dissertation, I have been told by the History Department that there is not enough funding for my teaching assistantship. I have been told I qualified for the assistantship, and have made satisfactory progress in the program. Yet, despite this, I have not been renewed for the spring semester. This at a time when financial support is very critical.
Today, I read in the Houston Press that you were instrumental in arranging for Fabian Vaksman to receive a $10,000 teaching assistantship. Sir, in all fairness, I find it hard to believe that money can be found to make sure Vaksman has an opportunity to complete his education when myself and others like me are not given the same consideration.
I am sure I don't have to remind you, or anyone else associated with the UH administration, of how many opportunities Mr. Vaksman has received. Your spokesperson, Fran Howell, said that you feel Vaksman is "an acceptable risk" and that you are "betting this guy wants an education and we don't want to stand in the way of that education."
I respectfully disagree with your first assertion of acceptable risk -- as does local law enforcement agencies which have, in the past, placed undercover officers at the History Department for protection from Mr. Vaksman. I also disagree with your assessment that, for Vaksman, a chance for education equates to teaching assistantship funding. Moreover, your assessment of Vaksman's educational potential runs directly contrary to the considered judgment of the vast majority of History Department professors.
I have performed and progressed in a satisfactory manner at every stage of the graduate program. My cumulative GPA is 3.82, and I passed my comprehensive examination on the first attempt. I have not been so callous with my chance for education as Vaksman has -- where is my funding? How do you suggest the university treat its students in a fair and equitable manner? Or is it merely a simple function of making threats or obtaining counsel as Fabian Vaksman has done? Can you please explain this to me?
To the editor:
For the record, I take exception to the out-of-context quote cited in James Geluso's article on the resignations of Dell Felder and Ed Whalen.
I did say, "As long as they stay with people like Dell Felder and Ed Whalen, we're screwed," but it was during an Academic Task Force meeting on Dec. 15 when faculty were candidly discussing the structure of the System administration. I was unaware at the time that a reporter was even in the room.
When Mr. Geluso called last week for comment on the Felder/Whalen resignations, I told him I was supportive of Hobby's action, but given the circumstances (they had, after all, lost their jobs), I had no comment.
Utilizing the highly sophisticated technique of cut-and-paste, Mr. Geluso was able to find one anyway. So, he got his verbal spice after all, giving one last boot to two already unemployed people, and something for my students to giggle about.
All in all, I'd say it was worth it.
Associate professor of art