Students help pick profs
By Sara Marett
Western's department of visual arts is putting a new twist on its hiring process and the change could result in a masterpiece.
Madeline Lennon, chair of the visual arts department, has decided student input should be part of its hiring process. "We are currently advertising two studio art teaching positions and we are very concerned with the student reaction to different teachers," she said.
The department has set up a series of lectures where prospective teachers are invited to speak and show their art. "We have invited all undergraduate and graduate students to attend these lectures and provide us with feedback," Lennon said, adding the candidates for the job will also be critiquing pieces of art with students.
"We feel it is important for students to interact with these people as prospective professors," Lennon said. "So far, this process has been very useful. Turnout at the lectures has been really good and we have already received feedback from some students. "We feel it is important that students are given the opportunity to assess the candidate and discuss their opinions with us."
Elizabeth Goodrich, president of the Visual Arts Student Association, said the department has taken a positive step by initiating such an interactive relationship with the students. "It sounds like they will really be taking student input into account when hiring. But, of course, they do have the final say," she said.
Lennon said the impact of student input could be great as members of the department feel students are able to quickly establish what a prospective professor would be like in the classroom from hearing them speak and interacting with them. "If a student came to us with a negative reaction to a candidate, we would not want to hire this person," Lennon said.
She added the quality of teaching, the candidate's interest in exhibiting art and a willingness to work with colleagues on extra-curricular activities are additional hiring considerations.
There are currently at least eight candidates vying for the two positions which will be chosen by March, Lennon said.