Half of SOAN department leaving
April 13, 2001
Filed under Archives
The Sociology/Anthropology (SOAN) department appears to be in a state of flux.
With approximately 100 hundred students in the SOAN department, it has become one of the most popular majors at the school and by the end of this year, of the four professors in the department (two sociologists and two anthropologists), two will be gone. Even now, many SOAN majors say they are unable to get the classes that are necessary to major in the field.
Professors are becoming increasingly frustrated and students are becoming equally frustrated. The problem underlying everything is that many people in the school community feel that the school itself has not done enough to support the SOAN department.
In the spring of 1999, the SOAN department requested a third sociologist, and the same request was made in the spring of 2000. No new positions have been added.
As sociology professor Laura O’ Toole said, “How can you claim to be student centered when you don’t support the students?” After this semester, O’Toole will be leaving to head the sociology department at Roanoke College in Virginia.
Also leaving is sociologist Alejandro Cervantes-Carson. He is taking a position at Mary Washington College in Virginia. However, Cervantes-Carson is on a leave of absence. He was going to turn in his resignation, but was convinced to take only a leave of absence after talking to the school administration.
He expressed optimism about the possibility of returning to Guilford after next year. He says, though, that the only way he would come back is if he saw that the school was taking definite steps to make the SOAN department “a top priority.”
He points to the fact the Mary Washington has almost the exact same number of sociology students that Guilford does but keeps six sociology professors on the faculty.
This is nothing new for this department. Over the past years, it has become common that professors in the SOAN department leave after only staying for a short while. Anthropology professor Vernie Davis asks “Why is the turnover so high for SOAN compared to the some of the other departments in the school?”
He also shared feelings of being unappreciated and of not being supported by the school. Whenever a professor leaves a department for whatever reason, the remaining members of the department must write the equivalent of a report to the school on why a replacement professor should be hired.
Davis also wondered why they have to “defend” the hiring of another teacher when “we should be talking about hiring more teachers.”
“The college has been responsive to what is going on. The fact that I am here shows that the college is doing something,” said second-year professor Laban Gwako. However, he pointed out that what satisfies him, might not satisfy everybody.
“What other faculty members might think about how the college is handling the department is a different issue,” said Gwako. “It’s a highly subjective issue. Different people will want