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Tenure Committee Reconsideration necessary

By Middlebury Campus

Author: [no author name found]

We are dismayed to find out that Assistant Professor of Sociology Marc Garcelon was refused tenure. Max Weber said that a good teacher encourages the student to “give himself an account of the meaning of his own conduct.” In the end, he fulfills “the duty of bringing about self-clarification and a sense of responsibility.” Most students that have had Garcelon would agree that he has taken this advice to heart by attempting to shape critical thinkers and conscientious community members within this institution.

Garcelon encourages students to link issues like independent media, globalization and social change through the lens of multiple perspectives, and with an eye to the complexities in the politics that impact every aspect of our lives. Garcelon puts students’ critical thinking abilities to the test and inspires them to apply, and articulate, their knowledge outside of class. Being an excellent professor is clearly a priority for Garcelon and he consistently spends time and energy above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that his students are challenging themselves to think about new and difficult issues in a constructive and stimulating manner.

Considering what we know of this situation, we are perplexed by the way the factors add (or don’t add) up: he just published one of the most thorough studies that exists on the Russian Revolution; he was unanimously supported by his own department, on both Sociology and Anthropology sides and the student evaluations were largely glowing. Let’s reconsider this. For the sake of knowledge and transparency, we would like to know more about the tenuring process regarding a professor we believe is whole-heartedly “dedicated to excellence and service to the educational needs of students” in the spirit of the mission statement .

Garcelon is one of the few professors that continually come up in conversations that we have with our peers. His name surfaces at least once, even twice, a week, if not more, and always evokes a smile and general sentiment of delight. But our fellow classmates speak for themselves:

“Marc Garcelon is a man who imbibes a passion into the material he both teaches and studies. His enthusiasm is infectious and his sense of humor precious. This is why I came to Middlebury – to be part of a small intellectual community of personable and caring professors with passion for sharing their time and knowledge.”

– Mark Little, ’08

“I took Sociology 305 with Professor Garcelon in the fall of 2004. He is one of the kindest and most attentive professors I’ve had at Middlebury. His passion for sociology, his involvement in current social issues, and his ability to apply the theories we studied to current affairs made class discussions engaging, thought-provoking, and pertinent. I am stunned that such a dedicated and driven professor would not be awarded the tenure he so clearly deserves.”

– Melissa Clineburg, ’06

“I met Marc the summer after my first year at Middlebury. He was at a barbeque that some members of the Sociology/Anthropology department put together. I was a guest of a guest, and a typical first-year without a clue of what I wanted to do with my Middlebury career. I spent the entire afternoon just talking to Professor Garcelon, about sociology, about its relevance in the world, and about its place at Middlebury. It only took one afternoon and not a single class for me to realize that I wanted to be a Soc/Anthro major […] After Mark Southern’s tragic loss, I can’t help but feel that in denying Marc Garcelon tenure, Middlebury would be losing yet another brilliant, passionate human being, and the embodiment of what Middlebury’s spirit should be.”

– Cynthia Hernandez

“Professor Garcelon is an extremely enthusiastic professor who cares deeply about what he teaches. He consistently connects each idea in his classes to the real world – you can’t take a class with Garcelon and not be better informed about some of the most crucial issues for our generation.”

– Khairani Barokka, ’06

“Marc Garcelon is the Reason I didn’t transfer.”

– Charlie Parker, ‘07.5

“I conducted my senior thesis with Professor Garcelon and have taken two courses and completed two 500 projects with him in the Sociology-Anthropology Department. He spent numerous hours each week this year meeting with me to discuss my thesis and editing my drafts with remarkable skill and thoroughness. He is an excellent writer and has helped me improve my own writing skills more than any other instructor I have had at Middlebury. Professor Garcelon has continually challenged me to think in new and creative ways and has given me confidence both in the world of academia and in my own ability to succeed in that world, if I so chose. I am seriously considering applying to Sociology graduate programs, largely because of his passion for the discipline.”

– Amber Trotter, ’06

We are afraid that if Garcelon is not reconsidered by the tenure committee, especially given the student response, there will be an unfortunate stain on our final days at Middlebury, our appreciation of which was shaped by people the sort of Garcelon. We feel sorry that coming generations of students might not have the privilege and the pleasure of learning from him. We feel fortunate that we have had the opportunity to do so and we hope that this can serve as a beginning to a productive dialogue on the behalf of Garcelon and the students that have yet to learn from him.




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