As an avid believer in the power and possibility of education and a recent ASU graduate, Irwin's article was particularly poignant for me (I graduated from ASU in December '06 with a post-baccalaureate degree in secondary education - English).

Through my educational journey, I attended one community college, two small private schools and two large state universities. Without an ounce of English-teacher hyperbole, I can honestly say that ASU was the worst excuse for an educational institution that I have ever experienced. My poor wife is in need of hearing aids after listening to three years of my grumblings about misguidance from ASU's "guidance professionals" (which cost me thousands of dollars in unnecessary coursework and time), graduate students teaching classes they were unqualified to teach, supersized classes, dilapidated buildings and a general feeling that my fellow Sun Devil strangers and I were merely cogs in the 60,000-student Crow machine.

It is not all doom and gloom, though. There are some amazing professors at ASU, who, despite the current climate, still view teaching (not just research) as their primary initiative and who believe that students are, first and foremost, individual human beings, not dollar signs. They, unfortunately, are the exception at ASU.

I believe that at the heart of Crow's so-called New American University is an ideology that actually corresponds with what is wrong with much of American culture: the disastrous belief that bigger is better. The same misguided mentality that brought us the Hummer, 80-ounce Super Big Gulps and 5,000-square-foot suburban homes. One need only take a peek at America's ever-growing pollution problem and Americans' waist sizes to realize that bigger ain't always better.

Until things change, I will consider it my duty as an educator and lifelong learner to persuade my students to avoid ASU like warm dung on freshly shorn grass.
Peter H. Nelson, Phoenix

Kathryn Milun responds: After reading about my case in New Times, some people have contacted me to find out more about the EEOC charge filed against ASU on my behalf.

But first, let me commend Megan Irwin for this important story about the structural problems in ASU's administration. She accurately describes instances and effects of bullying and mismanagement by administrators.

Before I explain the current status of the EEOC claim, let me clarify a few statements in the New Times story. Readers should know that I do not go around the country giving talks about maternity issues for the American Association of University Women. I will, however, be speaking at that group's annual meeting this July in Phoenix, and I will be speaking about my case against ASU.

Second, it is inaccurate to say (as the article does) that I expected "extra time" to complete the tenure process at ASU.

Tenure-track faculty can use university policies that "extend" their tenure clock for specific and legitimate reasons, but this should not be considered "extra time." Maternity is a legitimate extension.

The university's policy states: "ASU does not deny employment because of pregnancy. Maternity leave is provided through sick leave policies that apply to women employees who take time off for pregnancy, childbearing, and/or related conditions . . . ASU does not penalize women in terms of conditions of employment because of pregnancy and childbearing."

This policy was in place when I was hired at ASU and it was in place when I was fired from ASU.

I was fired (given a terminal contract) from ASU in 2003 during a review of my first three years of employment. This was at the beginning of Michael Crow's administration for the "New American University." Since my three previous annual reviews were all in the range of superior and excellent, I had no idea there was a problem. But David Young, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who had recently replaced Gary Krahenbuhl, saw things differently. In his review of my file, he overturned the departmental decisions, and wrote: "[Milun's] scholarly record is simply not sufficient to warrant recommending a regular or conditional contract, especially for a faculty member who is ten years past her Ph.D." Indeed, I had completed my Ph.D. 10 years earlier, but during those years, I had had three children.

When I informed the dean that, given my maternity extensions, he had miscalculated the years comprising my scholarly record, he turned around and issued me a conditional contract calling for nearly twice as many publications as specified in my department guidelines for tenure. And he demanded that I complete these conditions in one year.

What happens when this kind of administrative decision-making is supported all the way to the president's office? David Young is now senior vice president of academic affairs.

And what happened to the people who supported me when I spoke out about being fired or about being handed an unfair conditional contract? One person was promptly removed from the position of chair. Dean Young hand-picked a new chair without the customary faculty vote. This new chair would eventually review my tenure file. This is not an unusual action in the New American University.

When I did get a lawyer and was finally allowed to go forward for tenure review, the university-wide promotion and tenure committee voted (in majority) that I should be tenured and promoted to associate professor. The P&T committee noted the strengths of my scholarly record as well as "the dean's bias."

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Kevin Wisz
Kevin Wisz

Tent City! I just spent 15 days there for a DUI and it was disgusting. The bathrooms were considered "condemned" and unsanitary. They shut them down because one of the women in the tents contacted the health department, they came, shut down the womens tents and moved them, and piled in port-ta-potties on the mens side. The port-a's weren't emptied my whole last week and feces was piled high in them. Who knows what we were all exposed to.

The Tents are infested with rats/mice and insects. They are all over the place.

Staff infections were rumored to be spreading.

There are race gangs there.

It was just truly a horrific experience. Sheriff Joe treats his stupid horses (next to the tents) better than the inmates.

I want to write a "How to Survive Tent City" guide for you. Would you consider it? I used to freelance.

Kevin Wiszazkevin@hotmail.com602.446.2895

 
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