It looks like more of the same at University of Alaska Southeast. According to a recent article published in the Juneau Empire, about 100 students at the Juneau campus have signed a petition in support of a popular English instructor who had not been retained. The petition voiced concern about many good teachers that leave UAS after speaking out on important issues facing the campus or community. It asserts that there is too much apathy when it comes to speaking out because of a "fear of retaliation."
Based on my years of experience at UAS, I agree with this petition. I believe that unhealthy "fears of retaliation" dominate UAS. There is little tolerance for differing points of view. These conditions have very negative impacts on educational programs at UAS. Why has this happened?
Since its controversial inception in 1987 as a replacement for popular and successful community colleges, UAS has never held a nation-wide search to hire a chancellor, vice chancellor and provost. The current troika of administrators that rules UAS was appointed without such a search. This troika has little tolerance for freedom of expression essential to successful universities in my opinion. It was largely responsible for terminating many highly respected community college faculty and classified staff on Ketchikan campus between 1990 and 1997.
Students at UAS deserve better. The university's Board of Regents needs to wake up. A nationwide search is needed to hire new leadership. Until the board makes major changes at the top of the UAS administration, we can expect more of the same. Without change, popular and outspoken faculty will continue to be non-retained or compelled to move on to other institutions that appreciate free speech and differing points of view.
Robert D. Warner
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