A student-driven open forum held Monday focused on student over the School of Dramatic Arts’ review of professors Joe Anthony and Doug Tompos, who students claimed were facing firings last week.
SDA Dean Madeline Puzo assured approximately 100 students in the Mark Taper Hall of Humanities that “no decisions have been made.” However, students were still mightily concerned about the status of the two professors. Multiple students walked up to the stage to ask the professors questions and comment on the situation.
Many students have supported the professors online. Last week, students started a Facebook community page titled “Protest SDA firing of Joe Anthony & Doug Tompos.” As of Monday afternoon, the page has received 386 likes.
Sarah Fanella, a freshman majoring in theatre, said frustration set in when she heard rumors about the status of both professors through the online Facebook community page.
“The first time I heard that Doug or Joe had the possibility of not teaching anymore was through Facebook, and that upset me because that shouldn’t have happened”, Fanella said. “The first person that should’ve notified me was the [School of Dramatic Arts] itself. So I came here to figure out what they’re going to do to establish communication with us.”
Many students at the forum said that the university needed to reconsider their peer evaluation system. Students, such as Alexandra Jennings, a sophomore majoring in theatre, said they wanted to find out why Anthony and Tompos were currently being reviewed when she believed there is no financial risk to keep them as part-time faculty.
“These teachers have such an impactful relationship with students regardless if they’re part-time or full-time,” Jennings said. “So why are we looking for full-time faculty right now when there really isn’t much risk financially with this part-time faculty that we love so much?”
Jennings’ comments triggered a round of applause from the students in the audience.
Though many students voiced concern, professors said that no final decisions have been made regarding Anthony and Tompos’ teaching posts during the fall semester. Sharon Carnicke, a professor at the School of Dramatic Arts, told the audience that all faculty members at the school are faculty peers.
“It is a normal process of life here,” Carnicke said. “This year, Dean Puzo has decided that all of the faculty be peer-assessed. So, for the first time this year, part-time faculty members are going through what full-time faculty have always gone through.”
Jay Lee, a sophomore majoring in theatre, said that though he was inspired by Anthony and Tompos as their student, he respects SDA’s procedure and process in choosing faculty for the school.
“Doug is fantastic,” Lee said. “I would hate to lose him, but ultimately, it’s not up to him, or us — it’s ultimately up to the faculty. I’m in support of the faculty in trying to develop the best school possible however they see fit.”
Lee also said he was excited to personally communicate how he felt and hear what Puzo and administrators had to say about the matter.
“Judging by how the [forum] went, if the doors remain open, we may head in a good direction. I think the continuation of dialogue is absolutely crucial,” Lee said. “I think people need to really listen and understand the importance and the weight of what the faculty is telling us because I think too often we’re clouded by our own judgments.”