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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Political Science 101: An Adjunct Fired and One Disaster Corrected

    Political Science 101: An Adjunct Fired and a Disaster Corrected

    Like most introductory courses, World Politics, PoliticalScience 101 (POL 101) is a class bustling with upwards of 200 students.‘ POL 101 fulfills a Stony BrookDiversified Education Curriculum (DEC) requirement, so students from all majorsenroll in the course.

    Mary Kay DuCray was simply one of many adjuncts assigned toteach a political science course this semester.Based on her background in international politics, she wasoffered a position teaching POL 101.But, DuCray’s assignment quickly turned into ‘?a Titanic-likedisaster,’ said Charles Taber, Ph.D., head of the undergraduate PoliticalScience program.By early October,DuCray had been fired from Stony Brook University.

    Taber assumed teaching duties in the wake of DuCray’sdeparture.He has taught thecourse for more than ten years, and said that since he began teaching, thenumber of full time faculty at Stony Brook University’s political sciencedepartment has dropped by seven members.

    With this drop has come a rise in the number of adjunct andpart-time faculty has only risen.Today, adjuncts teach nearly half of all undergraduate political sciencecourses.The number of adjuncts,by Taber’s estimates, has doubled since ten years ago.‘ Political science adjuncts are oftenlawyers or graduate students, Taber said, and many of them do ‘?a good jobteaching material.’

    ‘?[DuCray was an] aberration of an evolving adjunctproblem at Stony Brook,’ Taber said.

    DuCray sometimes showed up to lectures 20 minutes late, andwas often nowhere to be found during her supposed office hours.‘ Rather than developing her own notes,she simply used Taber’s notes from years gone by, and read verbatim fromthe textbook.For one class inSeptember, DuCray brought and taught from a set of notes intended for use in aNovember lecture.

    Within two weeks, students had approached Taber aboutDuCray’s shortcomings.Department Chair Mark Schneider and Taber conferred and then talked withDuCray, offering suggestions for improving her teaching style.

    By months end, more complaints had been filed.‘ When Taber approached DuCray over thefrequent lateness, she reportedly responded, ‘?I don’t believe inwatches.’

    It quickly became apparent to Taber and Schneider thatsomething had to be done.With alabor relations board protecting adjunct professors like DuCray, ‘?itwasn’t entirely clear that anything could be done,’ Tabersaid.But in early October,Schneider and Taber made their move, firing DuCray.

    Forced to play ‘?catch-up,’ Taber reviewed thefirst month’s notes in just two days.The first test was given Nov. 5.

    ‘?It’s possible that some students will suffer,and it’s important that they have an out,’ Taber said, noting thatstudents may choose the Pass/No Credit option after the first test if theywish.

    Taber said that he expects to continue teaching POL 101 forthe next two years, but then plans to go on sabbatical.‘ His move will leave the departmentwithout an international relations expert.Taber hopes that the Political Science Department will be ina position to hire a faculty member by the time of his departure.‘ But the current budget situation, Tabersaid, may leave the department with no other choice but to play the’?adjunct game.’

    DuCray could not be reached for comment.‘ Several POL 101 students, however,openly expressed their sentiments.

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