Political science department loses two faculty, will replace one

Martin Donovan, Staff Writer

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The political science department will reduce the number of professors during the 2018-2019 academic year by replacing only one of two upcoming vacancies. The department will hire a visiting professor after Professors of Political Science Pedro Dos Santos and Paul Gardner leave at the end of the academic school year.

Dos Santos will leave for a new position at College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University and Gardner will retire after 32 years at Luther. Political science major Sean McKenzie (‘20) expressed his concerns regarding the changes in the political science department.

“It’s scary [and] unfortunate that one solid professor is retiring and then in the same year another very solid professor is moving,” McKenzie said. “It reduces the political science department [significantly].”

The department is currently looking for a temporary one–year visiting professor for 2018-2019.

The department will then start a search during the 2018-2019 academic year and eventually hire a new tenure track position.

“The reason we did it as a visiting [professor] is because we had to do it quickly and [searches] can take forever, especially for a tenure track,” Associate Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department Carly Foster said. “For a tenure track you are asking people to permanently relocate here, so we want to give people a little more time to think about whether they want to apply.”

The department is seeking a professor who has a similar research focus as Dos Santos — comparative and global politics.

“The position we are hiring is for a one-year position for a person a who has expertise in international relations, international studies, comparative [politics],  and international politics,” Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Political Science Rachel Brummel said. “In particular, we are looking for somebody who has an area specialty, so a region in the world where they specialize. We are looking to get a global perspective, which is something that [Dos Santos] brought with his focus on Latin America.”

The current search committee for the visiting professor consists of Brummel, Foster, and Professor of Political Science Michael Engelhardt. However, in 2018-2019 the political science department will form a search committee that will include Brummel, Foster and Engelhardt, as well as one to two professors outside of the department for the tenure track position.

Political science major Joe Keeley (‘20) displayed concern about the department’s decision to only replace one of the two professors leaving.

“It says something about how Luther isn’t prioritizing these subjects,” Keeley said. “Dos Santos leaving, to me, illustrates these subjects that can be used to retract students aren’t being prioritized or advertised by the college as much as they could be. This school should make a bigger priority in advertising these programs, hiring new professors, and really invigorating this department.”

Despite the changes in faculty, the department does not intend to make significant changes to the curriculum. Moving forward, the political science department plans to further its work and collaboration with other academic departments in order to provide interesting courses for students.

“The other thing that political science is really strong in is our intersections with other programs,” Brummel said. “[There are] connections with international studies, … with environmental studies, … with women and gender studies, [and the] Paideia program. So [we are] maintaining those connections, but looking at other ways to intersect with programs to continue to strengthen.”

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