Professor's Job Security in Doubt
Students Appeal for His Tenure
February 27, 2007 9:25 AM
Student evaluations and a lack of scholarly work might lead to the termination of a popular teacher's career at SF State, despite student-generated petitions and rallies.
Dr. Benito Vergara Jr., an Asian American studies and anthropology professor, was denied tenure last spring by President Robert Corrigan and Provost John Gemello, after six years of teaching. Since then, SF State students have been campaigning to support Vergara.
“We’ve been writing letters to President Corrigan,” said League of Filipino Students Vice Chair Charm Consolacion, whose organization also set up a MySpace page to support Vergara.
The Asian American studies department also implemented a similar technique, asking supporters to submit letters containing “anything that would help the President change his mind.”
An online petition was composed to support the possibility of Vergara's tenure. Currently, 238 signatures indicate they are “united in their request that [President Corrigan] reconsider the decision to deny tenure and promotion to Dr. Benito Vergara, Jr.”
Vergara received a letter from Gemello that opposed his tenure on the grounds that he had not produced an adequate amount of scholarly work. The Provost also indicated in the letter that some of Vergara’s qualitative students evaluations were not satisfactory. They stated that he commonly went off topic.
The Asian American studies and anthropology departments, as well as the Tenure, Promotions and Retention Committee approved the tenure before Gemello denied it. Unless overturned, Vergara faces termination at the end of this school year. Student responses from the SF State community, particularly those involved in Filipino and other Asian student organizations, spawned from Vergara's rejection.
“The petition will add to our letter-writing campaign,” said Consolacion, a 25-year-old urban studies senior. “But we don’t know what the future holds.”
Anthropology office manager Sylvia Leng echoed the same sentiment.
“We don’t really know his status,” said Leng. “The committee and the chair have approved it, but it always has to go higher up.”
On May 27, 2006, the Asian American studies department, and other organizations like the League of Filipino Students, or LFS, Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavors, or PACE, and the Manalo movement publicly supported Vergara’s extension.
“There was a whole rally on 19th and Holloway, with banners and megaphones,” said Vergara. “It was pretty wonderful.”
“I want to be able to stay,” said Vergara. “You can quote me on that.”
For more information, visit www.petitiononline.com/vergara or www.myspace.com/tenureforvergara.
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