Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar
Former adjunct geography
professor Michael Doran sits in his nearly empty office in the McElhinney
Building Thursday. Doran's contract
was not renewed after the Spring 2001
Geography students lost
as Doran departs
By Tom Carpenter
Daily Cougar Staff
The man at the forefront of the resurgence
of interest in a geography program at UH cleaned out his office Wednesday
while an apparent
administrative blunder left many students
stranded when they found that classes for which they had enrolled had been
Former adjunct professor Michael Doran
was scheduled to teach Geography 2340 (World Realms) this semester, even
Achenbaum, dean of the College of Liberal
Arts and Social Sciences, informed Doran in May that his contract would
not be renewed when
it expired after the summer sessions.
Senior MIS student Selwyn Dacosta is one
of the students who waited in the scheduled classroom for the instructor
"There's a whole group of my friends taking
the class and we got really depressed," Selwyn said. "I spent a week lining
up my schedule so
everything fit. Now I've got to scramble
to figure out a new schedule because they've changed the time and day of
Doran claimed Achenbaum used him as the
"scapegoat" to quiet an activist group of students who petitioned to add
geography as a major
and minor here at the main UH campus.
When the students presented their petition
to the UH System Board of Regents in February, Provost Edward Sheridan
told them that,
despite "a compelling presentation," UH
would not offer such a program at the main campus, as a fledgling geography
program was being
started at UH-Clear Lake.
"I came out in public supporting their
movement to bring geography back as a major," Doran said. "Achenbaum figured
I was the
ringleader, as if students don't have
the intelligence to organize a petition drive."
Jesse Alvarado, a postgraduate education
student, was particularly disgruntled. He needs the class to earn his teaching
"My daughter had open heart surgery. I've
got to pick her up at school at a specific time," Alvarado said. "Not only
that, I'm going to school
on the G. I. Bill. This is really going
to mess me up with my schedule to get my daughter, and it's going to cause
a headache with the
government. This may push me back a semester.
I don't want anybody to get in trouble, but this is ridiculous."
Alvarado's wife, Mary, was equally upset
as she waited in Achenbaum's office.
"This shouldn't happen," she said. "It's
ridiculous to have students walking around not knowing where they're supposed
Achenbaum was unavailable for comment,
referring all inquiries to the UH Office of External Communications.
A representative of that office provided
a list of course changes, but said he couldn't comment on the matter and
referred all questions to
Kathleen Sheridan, assistant dean of CLASS.
"I know you probably think you're getting
the run-around, but I really don't know anything about this," Sheridan
Sheridan did not explain why the college
failed to assign a teacher for the classes listed in the course catalogue
after Doran's dismissal.
"It's a combination of arrogance and incompetence,"
Doran said. "I'm not sure which is the heavier weight."
Doran said the real issue is the fact that
more than half the instructors at UH are adjuncts without tenure, meaning
they can be fired without
a stated cause.
Statistics gleaned from the book Ghosts
in the Classroom, published by the National Education Association, state
that, of the more than
one million university and college teachers
in the United States, more than half are adjuncts.
"I came out in public supporting two fundamental
issues," Doran said. "One, students are being ripped off by universities.
professors, not adjuncts and teacher aides
for their hard-earned money. Two, universities are shamelessly exploiting
an oversupply of
A list of the class cancellations and replacement
classes failed to include room numbers. For more information, call (713)
Geography 2340 (section numbers 11155 and
09692) are canceled. Students are directed to attend the new Geography
2340, taught by
Dennis Morrison, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays
Geography 2340 (section number 09691) meets
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 to 9 a.m. Victor Mote, who will
course, is out of the country, but will
return to UH on Monday.
Geography 1300 (section number 09689) is
canceled. Geography 1301 (section number 09690) will meet from 10 to 11
Wednesdays and Fridays. Mote will teach