To the Editor:
I am an alumna of Fairfield and a member of Alpha Sigma Nu who continues to read The Mirror. I write to voice my strong objections to Fr. von Arx’s change to the Alpha Sigma Nu Teacher of the Year Award reserving the final decision of who receives the award for the president. The honor of choosing the professor who receives the Alpha Sigma Nu Teacher of the Year award belongs exclusively to the students. The university honors the administration’s opinion of the faculty through the Rank and Tenure committee and other awards. In addition to the Teacher of the Year, two members of the faculty are chosen by the administration to be honored as inductees into Alpha Sigma Nu. The Teacher of the Year Award is distinct from all other accolades because is represents the students’ voices. The reasons given by Fr. Allen for reserving the final choice to the president, published works and length of service, are contributions outside of the classroom having little to do with superior teaching, which the award is meant to honor. The president should honor the students’ abilities to choose a professor who exhibits the qualities of scholarship, loyalty and service. The Alpha Sigma Nu students have earned the honor of selecting the teacher of the year by their own acceptance into Alpha Sigma Nu. This award is one of the most powerful ways students can speak about their professors. While Alpha Sigma Nu students may agonize over their choice, the professor is chosen by a democratic election following student discussion on the professors’ behalf. The Teacher of the Year Award is an important method for voicing student opinion about those qualities that make a great teacher, which is a different standard from what the administration considers. Students should find another method for bestowing a Teacher of the Year Award that represents student opinion in the final decision, perhaps through FUSA.
Sincerely, Catherine Henry ’02