An academic advisor who advised between 250 to 300 students was one of 150 University employees furloughed on May 1 according to an email sent to students from Social and Behavioral Science (SOBS) Department Chair Dr. Rhonda Quinn. According to the email, the furlough will last for the next two months.
The furloughing of academic advisor Michael Carhart has raised questions for the University as to what kind of employees faced furlough and how they were selected.
“I think that this move by administration is treating academic advisors as disposable or interchangeable, and they’re not,” Paige Tenpenny, and SOBS major, told The Setonian. “They’re integral to our academic careers. Continuity is important with advising as we develop relationships with our advisors over time.”
According to a statement from University spokesperson Laurie Pine, no faculty members or freshman studies advisors faced furlough and that “student advising services continue to be provided.”
“Any student who is unable to access their advisor should contact their dean,” Pine said.
According to Quinn, several faculty members in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work – which oversees the SOBS major – have submitted an official request to Dean of Arts and Sciences Dr. Peter Shoemaker to rescind the furlough of Carhart.
“We are deeply distressed by the decision and are appealing it based on our view that the SOBS advisor, who advises between 250-300 students, is an essential student support role,” Quinn said in a statement to The Setonian. “Although not a sustainable solution after the summer, SOBS faculty with the help of the Dean of Students will ensure that all SOBS students are sufficiently advised during the furlough.”
According to an email sent to students Monday from Quinn, SOBS faculty will serve as advisors in his place with assistance from the Dean of Students’ Office beginning this week and continuing into the summer.
“I’m hopeful that this furlough won’t continue until fall, but the administration has made it clear that there’s no definite end date,” Tenpenny said. “I’m really concerned because I’ll be starting my senior year in the fall, and to start from scratch with a new advisor who I’ve never even met before does not make me feel supported by administration.”
When reached for comment, Shoemaker said that he was unable to discuss confidential personnel matters.
In an email to SOBS students, Quinn encouraged students who want to support the Department’s appeal of Carhart’s furlough to provide a support letter on his behalf and send it to either herself or Associate Professor Dr. Leslie Bunnage.
In a final email sent to students before his furlough, Carhart thanked students for working with him during this time of turmoil.
“I hope from our advising sessions you took away the importance of finding mentors and people who really care about your growth as a person. Please do not settle for anything less,” Carhart told students. “What else can I say? Every single one of you have made my job an absolute pleasure to come to every day.”
Nicholas Kerr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @nickdotkerr.