Faculty now have a say about the office rearrangement for Baldwin and McClain Halls that will take place following the 2016 Baldwin renovation.
Truman State’s administration originally planned to switch the location of classic and modern languages department with the social sciences department. This meant moving social sciences to McClain next year while classic and modern languages would go to Fair Apartments, then Baldwin during 2017. Professors objected to this change because of how long English and classic and modern languages have worked together. They voiced their complaints to administration, who clarified that faculty will be included during the process.
English professor Joseph Benevento says professors have taught interdisciplinary courses for many years depending on what the other departments needed. Benevento said he taught Spanish classes on several occasions.
“We’ve worked with some of these people in foreign language for many years,” Benevento says.
Benevento says the departments originally were told nothing could be done about the plans. He says the faculty met as a whole to discuss its concerns, working to draft a letter to University President Troy Paino and contact him individually. Benevento says after receiving the complaints, Paino was quick to explain there had been a miscommunication.
“Once the president got that information, he was a little dismayed that it had been conveyed as a done deal. He thought more of it as a working plan, and was willing and happy to get some input.”
– Joseph Benevento, English professor
Benevento says there will be a new committee soon — including the chairs of affected departments — tasked with making a new set of arrangements so that the English and classic and modern languages departments will not have to be separated. He says the new deal will have more input from affected professors.
Benevento says some classic and modern languages faculty will be housed in Fair Apartments for the entire 2016-17 academic year. He says the administration promised the apartments will be converted into usable office space with carpeting and working air conditioning.
Royce Kallerud, English and linguistics department chair, says the committee has yet to come together, but when it meets, it will decide during the next few months what offices will be moved and submit a proposal for evaluation.
“Definitely by the end of the semester there will be recommendations made to the administration,” Kallerud says.
Kallerud says these recommendations would be evaluated based on whether they make sense to the University and if they serve all parties involved to their best interests. Although the situation is complicated, he says he thinks patterns will emerge that will show good options. Kallerud says he is glad the situation has been sorted out and that the plans including faculty participation from the start just needed clarification.
English professor Christine Harker says the reason for the original arrangement was to make Baldwin hall an international building. She says Truman’s administration wanted to use the renovation and the subsequent shifting of offices to bring together departments that fit that theme.
Harker says because the study abroad office and many international students already use Baldwin, the University planned to follow up by bringing classic and modern languages over and moving all the English and social science faculty out.
The idea was some linguistics professors teach foreign languages, which would strengthen the international theme, Harker says. It made sense on the surface, but there were inconsistencies with the plan — she said many social science professors that would be moved out are history professors who already provide international subjects.
“If it’s an international building, why not leave the historians who have international scholarly focuses there in the first place?” Harker says.