Thursday 18th January 2018,
The Transcript

Finding the right one: Modern foreign language department close to end of long search for permanent faculty

By Hannah Urano
Transcript Correspondent

The modern foreign language department continues its search for two full-time French professors as finalists visit campus.

According to German Professor Thomas Wolber, it’s been a long process of trial and error that the department hopes will end successfully before the end of the academic year.
When French professors Margaret Fete and Susanna Bellocq died last winter, Susan Binkley and Adela Lechintan were hired as visiting assistant professors to fill their spots.
Meanwhile, Wolber said, the department was in the early phases of finding permanent replacements.

According to the faculty handbook, it is university policy to hold a nationwide search to fill tenure positions.

“In my opinion, it is always preferable to have a tenure track position over people who come and go,” Wolber said. “You want continuity, you want stability, you want someone who is totally committed and does not always have one foot in the job market.”

According to Wolber, the Academic Policy Committee approved the department’s request to hire two new professors last fall and job descriptions were distributed nationally: one for a metropolitan French literature professor and another for a Francophone studies professor.

Francophone studies involve non-metropolitan French speaking areas including the Caribbean, Maghreb, Sub-Saharan Africa, North America and Southeast Asia.
“We have many French students,” Wolber said.

“We didn’t want the program to die. I think it is fair to state that the university is very committed to maintaining French and seeing the program rejuvenated.”

According to Wolber the university has since received almost 100 applications for each position. A search committee “narrow(ed) down the candidates,” conducted interviews and brought the finalists to OWU.

Six candidates have visited or will visit the university in the final leg of the job search, three for each position.

“We are close to the end of the search,” Wolber said. “We have excellent candidates; we are happy with the quality.”

While on campus, each candidate gives a “scholarly presentation” to the search committee that’s open to students. They also have a chance to meet with students at an informal lunch.

Sophomore Kerrigan Boyd is not a French major, but has met with many of the candidates, as she is a member of the MFL student board.

“Most of the candidates I’ve talked to seem like their areas of study would fit quite well with the Ohio Wesleyan cross-disciplinary learning philosophy,” she said. “Even though I’m not a French major, it’s still important to me to find a professor that would fit well with the department and help it grow as a whole.”

Wolber said it is important to him students’ opinions are heard.

“I think student sentiment is always taken very seriously,” he said.

“If that were not the case I would not be very happy. Students need to be heard. Ultimately our business is all about the students, I think it would be unconscionable not to consult them.”

Junior Nora Anderson, who is majoring in French, said all of the candidates she’s interacted with “are lovely people and they have much broader takes on the Francophone world than I’m used to, and I’m glad to see that.”

“I’m excited to finally get permanent faculty, and I hope to work with them next year,” she said.

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