Students organized a protest on the College of Idaho campus after they say two professors were unfairly let go from the university. The protest centered on Dr. Chris Saunders and Dr. Isaac Hunter, both alumni’s of the school. Professor Saunders was denied a tenured chemistry teaching position and did not have his contract renewed by the College of Idaho board. Students claim that Professor Saunders was unfairly singled out for not having a prolific research resume. Students also claimed that Dr. Isaac Hunter was denied an additional year of teaching at the university to make room for a social psychology teacher.
However, in a statement released from College of Idaho President Dr. Charlotte G. Burst, she says both were not fired but on a “visiting contract,” that expired. A student at the protest explained to 6 On Your Side that the College of Idaho is attempting to move away from being a liberal arts college to a research institution. A move that some students disagree with.
"Were here to emphasize community, emphasize education, to emphasize that direct interaction with faculty, staff and administration," said sophomore Natasha Dacic. "If we were to become a research institution we would lose the community that makes the College of Idaho what were all about."
However, the president of the university disagrees:
“Our mission as an undergraduate liberal arts college is one that I take seriously. I know that some of some are concerned that we are not remaining a “teaching-focused college.” On the contrary, to paraphrase one student, I passionately support the College’s historic commitment to “prioritize students and the students’ education as its main goal.” That goal is explicated further in the Faculty Handbook, which reads: “A major responsibility of the College is to recruit, retain and promote the best-qualified faculty members…who exhibit superior achievement in the following areas:
1. Teaching excellence is the primary criterion necessary but not sufficient for recruitment and advancement.
2. Service to Students, College, Profession and Community: Faculty members whose service extends beyond the classroom increase the effectiveness of the College.
3. Scholarship: Scholarship is important for the advancement of teaching as well as for the faculty member’s professional development,” Dr. Borst wrote in a statement.
Both teachers were described by some students as highly respected members of the university. “People are hurt, you know? These decisions aren’t something that we are taking lightly and they’ve caused an overwhelming frustration and hurt on this campus,” Noelle Quong, a student at College of Idaho explained.
Dr. Borst encouraged students and faculty to meet with her to “discuss matters of concern” about the issue.
“Again, it is my intention to meet with student and faculty leaders in a setting where we can have a respectful dialogue about this matter. I appreciate their concerns, and I will continue striving to serve the best interests of our student body, the faculty and the entire College of Idaho community,” she concluded at the end of her statement.