In light of recent professor departures and retirement announcements from Alma College over the past few months, some departments around campus are currently in the process of rehiring positions for the upcoming academic year.
Particularly, the history and Political Science departments have seen numerous professor departures from the campus in the past few years. During the summer one of the tenured Political Science professors, Dr. Gorton, announced his resignation from the campus. As a result, the Political Science department currently has only two tenured professors on staff, Derick Humle and Britt Cartrite.
“When faculty members leave with relatively short notice, as a number of faculty did over the summer, including Dr. Gorton, it is not possible to go through our normal process for a tenure-track hire in just a few weeks,” said Britt Cartrite, Chair of Political Science.
Currently, a job description is posted on the Alma College website and the national database for political science. Once the deadline of Oct. 15 arrives, the college will begin reviewing applications and hire a candidate to start by Fall 2024.
“Rather than hiring throughout the year, typically when there is a position open an ad will be posted on various websites to attract applicants from across the country and beyond, which takes some time,” said Cartrite. “The process is so thorough because, in the case of tenure-track faculty, we are hoping to identify people who can effectively serve our students and the institution for, in many cases, decades.”
For smaller departments like Political Science, the absence of a professor largely affects the department’s curriculum. However, the department is currently utilizing visiting professors while the search for a tenure-track professor continues throughout the year.
“We have a visiting professor teaching one class this current semester and will offer 4-5 courses in the winter term by a few different visiting professors, thus replacing Dr. Gorton’s teaching load but not necessarily the courses he would have taught,” said Cartrite.
Additionally, the History department was recently given the news that once Dr. Furlong retires after the 2024 winter term he will not be replaced by a tenure-track professor. Instead, the college will be hiring a short-term adjunct teacher.
“Having someone that in this college will not be providing necessary parts of my history education is fairly alarming,” said Tyler Hoag (’25). “Dr. Furlong teaches a large amount of European History, and without him or someone of his same capacity, such as a tenured professor to fill that role, it creates a strain and possible failure to understand those modern European topics that are relevant to teaching certifications.
The College at this time is still working on details of Furlong’s replacement for the next academic calendar. The final decision of what the new history position will entail is still up in the air.
“There is much that we don’t know with certainty at this point. I can’t confidently predict how things will go,” said Kristin Olbertson, Professor of History.
The current and upcoming vacancies in the Political Science and History department may have students concerned; however, Alma College will ensure that all core curriculum classes are offered for students to graduate on time.