Middle East studies in the News
UNH Students Rally in Support of Lecturers [incl. Ruwa Majid-Pokorny]
by John Doyle
Dr. Sarah Batterson considers herself "a New Englander, through and through."
"I want to live here," said Dr. Batterson, a lecturer in history at the University of New Hampshire. "I've got friends and family here. It's a perfect combination."
Dr. Batterson was one of 16 UNH lecturers who were recently notified that their contracts will not be renewed for the upcoming school year due to budget cuts. On Friday morning, a group of more than 100 students gathered outside Thompson Hall on the UNH campus to voice support for the professors.
"It made me cry," Dr. Batterson said of Friday's rally. "It's just amazing to see the unity. (To) see all these students — I see my students (here) and it's just awesome to hear. It's just amazing."
In a statement released shortly after the lecturers were informed of the decision, a university spokesperson said some of the contracts were not renewed due to declining enrollments, while others were not renewed as the result of a desire by UNH to enhance program strength by ensuring that faculty members have the highest degree awarded in their field.
Speaking in support of the professors who are slated to lose their jobs, UNH junior Eva Ford said the decision was not made with the best interests of students in mind.
″(Today is) to support the people this administration has dehumanized and to express our deep unhappiness with both the way the cuts were handled, as well as the fact that the cuts were made in the first place," Ford said. "Their lack of transparency about these non-renewals suggested that students would not be affected by them. We are here to demonstrate why this is not the case."
Ford spoke about a favorite professor with whom she has taken three classes, Derek Hubbard, a lecturer in Spanish. She said she considers Hubbard both a mentor and friend.
"The positive impact he's had on my education and my life in general will not be forgotten," Ford said, "but I certainly would have preferred my relationship with him to continue."
When reached for comment, Nancy Targett, provost and vice president for academic affairs at UNH, said that non-renewal of lecturers' contracts is common, though this year's total of 16 was unusually high.
Targett said that in each of the past two years, about six or seven lecturers were not renewed.
″(Financial) needs aren't rigid, they shift from year to year," Targett said. "We have a process in place where we shift resourses where the needs are."
All of the positions eliminated are from the College of Liberal Arts, which comprises 23 academic departments. Targett said that all the non-renewals affected liberal arts lecturers was simply a coincidence, and that the college was not targeted specifically for cuts.
Targett also said that she is scheduled to speak with the UNH Student Senate over the weekend to hear their concerns.
Jenna Hannifan, a sophomore psychology major, spoke passionately about her admiration of Ruwa Majid-Pokorny, a senior lecturer in Arabic, who was among those who did not have their contracts renewed. Hannifan said she has had a class with Majid-Pokorny in each of her four semesters at UNH.
Hannifan said continuing her studies in Arabic would be much more difficult without the guidance Majid-Pokorny provides.
"She's made it as easy as possible to learn this language," Hannifan said. "And I don't mean 'easy' by skimping out and stuff like that. But just being able to explain to us what we're learning in such a way that I understand right away."
Hannifan said she studies Arabic because she plans a career working for the government in the Middle East.
"The culture and language are very misunderstood," Hannifan said. "We're in this for the long run. This is for our careers and we don't want this to end."Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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