It’s been a tumultuous few weeks for the College of Arts and Sciences. In fact, it’s been a tumultuous few years. But still, deciding four years ago to major in Classical Studies has been the best decision of my life. I grew academically and personally under the intellectually demanding but endlessly supportive faculty of the Classical Studies program. I was privileged to be challenged by the demands of the University’s Honors Program. I’ve seen this growth rewarded recently, when I earned a funded spot in Notre Dame’s Classical Studies MA program. Yet, it is both cruelly ironic and painfully sad that I cannot share this success with Dr. Raymond Capra, whose teaching and guidance were central to my success.
As a Classical Studies student, the controversial and hotly contested decision to deny Dr. Capra tenure three years ago significantly undermined the strength of my education. Certain classes could no longer be offered. His departure has overburdened the remaining faculty of the flourishing Classics program which now boasts of having over 20 majors. Doors once open were now needlessly and coldly closed. All students seeking the benefits of Seton Hall’s promised liberal education suffered for it. His departure has also harmed the beloved Honors Program by weakening the pool of faculty available and limiting the program’s ability to offer its characteristic team-taught classes.
I, as only an undergraduate, do not pretend to understand the complexities of the tenure process. I can only speak as a student. As a student, I can see that the University’s reckless decisions concerning the tenure of professors in the Humanities has devastated not only Classics but other small departments as well. Despite ostensible reasons given at the time, it is clear that Dr. Capra’s denied tenure was part of larger trend. As a student, I am tired of bureaucratic decrees that ravage small departments and hinder my education. Finally, as a student, I know that mistakes can only be fixed by those with the will to fix them. I can only hope that Seton Hall’s new administration by now sees the ways these errors in judgement have so seriously harmed so many. Bringing Dr. Capra back is the best way for our new administration to show that it has the courage to fix past mistakes and thereby fulfill its promise of a strong liberal education for all students.
Submitted by Brian Pulverenti, a senior Classical Studies & English major.