According to Visiting Professor Russell Court of the history department, Fairfield has decided not to renew his year-to-year contract without notifying him or providing any explanation.

However, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Timothy Snyder said the university has not finalized all decisions concerning next year.

“I don’t feel great about this, actually. A couple of days before [being informed by the chair of the department], I had a conversation with the dean and he didn’t tell me. I was rather upset. Obviously this is something that I really like to do,” said Court. “The history department was also very surprised. It came completely out of left field.”

Court teaches two “Renaissance and Reformation” and “History of Italy” courses during the academic year as well as eight HI 30 courses. He says he has a great deal of turnovers from his beginning level courses into his upper level courses and that some students have taken all three.

Court has also put long hours into the Fulbright committee for Fairfield graduates and has been looking forward to spending a third year with them. He is extremely proud that Fairfield received more of the scholarships than Yale and thinks the university would be losing a valuable professor who maked this opportunity possible.

Snyder paised Court’s work.

“Professor Court is not just involved, but he has had a significant impact, we think, on our success in Fulbright. He is dedicated to the students and to Fairfield, and he is a joy to work with,” said Snyder.

“All of us in the history department are very upset about what appears to be a decision not to renew Professor Court’s contract,” said Chair of the History Department Dr. David McFadden.

“He has been a superb instructor, working extremely hard, building the Italian history and Italian Studies programs and advising students for Fulbright,” McFadden added. “He has been an inspiration to all of us, and we would like very much to keep him next year.”

Court says he learned that his contract was not being renewed from McFadden, who obtained the information when he inquired specifically to Snyder.

“In general, our department chairs are of utmost importance in deciding who to hire for these positions, as well as working with the people who occupy them,” said Snyder. “Our chairs generally convey this type of information, as is the case in most universities.”

However, McFadden said he has recommended keeping Court since November, when he submitted a budget justification for the 2004-2005 academic year.

He said it is not a “done deal” yet and the department is still trying to reverse the tentative decision.

Court said McFadden explained he had heard that the dean intended to hire more adjunct professors. Court said they are “undeniably” cheaper, being paid only $3,800 per class without benefits.

But, according to Snyder, this information is false and the university has been moving away from adjunct teaching and has reduced the number of adjunct faculty.

Court is also concerned that the history department will be losing three professors next year, causing many courses to be cancelled. He says it will be difficult for students to get into upper-level courses.

He said he believed rising seniors will most likely be given priority and many underclassmen will have their requirements pushed off into the weeds.

He continued to say he is worried that the university will not be able to satisfy students’ strong demand for the Italian studies courses and that they might be dropped.

But McFadden said the justification he was given about the tentative decision was Court had been hired to deal with the large number of students needing core requirements in the classes of ’04 and ’05. Because those classes have finished their core, they may no longer need him.

“Obviously, this ignores completely his stellar service, the program he has built, and the needs of the history department for next year when we will be down nine core courses because of leaves and unfilled positions,” said McFadden.

But Snyder said the history department does not anticipate any shortages of courses or professors.

For many years, additional professors were hired because of an excess of students.

However, the university anticipates being at an occupancy norm next year and will therefore only need to hire a limited number of professors.

“Should we not hire Professor Court for next year, it would be for these reasons. We think he does a terrific job, in teaching and beyond,” said Snyder.

According to Snyder, the college dean’s office makes decisions like these after the academic vice president has notified the office of how much money is available.

The university generally prioritizes based on need and has not received additional funds for temporary full-time positions like Court’s.

“I wish we could create a tenure track position for him, but these are very hard to justify and achieve,” said McFadden.

If Court’s contract is not renewed, he will probably leave academia because Fairfield is taking too long to notify him of the decision in order for him to interview with other universities.

With two young children, he cannot afford to remain unemployed for 15 months. He is not sure what he will do if this happens.

If Court is retained, he said he will not hold any hard feelings against the university.

“After all, I’m not wedded to the administration. I don’t give them a lot of thought. I deal with students. This will not change my view of the university or the students-hopefully this is merely a speed bump,” said Court.

“I really enjoy going to his class,” said Dom Bonavitacola ’06. “If the university lets him go, it’s going to be their loss.”

The history department feels the same.

“I hope very much that the university will see the wisdom of retaining Professor Court both for the benefit of the students and for the long term growth of an important program, Italian Studies, at the university,” said McFadden.

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