Friday, August 24, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 3


 
 









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 semester.


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 cancelled.

Former adjunct professor Michael Doran was scheduled to teach Geography 2340 (World Realms) this semester, even though Andrew
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 to appear.

"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 the class."

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 degree.

"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 to be."

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 said.

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. Students expect
professors, not adjuncts and teacher aides for their hard-earned money. Two, universities are shamelessly exploiting an oversupply of
doctorates."

A list of the class cancellations and replacement classes failed to include room numbers. For more information, call (713) 743-3000.

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 and Thursdays.

Geography 2340 (section number 09691) meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 to 9 a.m. Victor Mote, who will teach the
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 a.m. Mondays,
Wednesdays and Fridays. Mote will teach the class.
 
 
 

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