The Quinnipiac Seminar Series will be facing changes to the program with one of the course leader’s recent resignation. Timothy Dansdill recently resigned from his position as the head of QU101.
Dansdill, who declined comment to the Chronicle, will continue his work as an associate professor of English.
Jill Shahverdian, the QU Seminar Series coordinator and an associate professor of mathematics, has taken over Dansdill’s responsibilities interimly. Dansdill’s resignation from the program came as a shock to Shahverdian.
“He was both passionate and dedicated to the faculty and students,” Shahverdian said. “I can’t really speak to his understanding of the resignation.”
Shahverdian said a replacement for Dansdill will be found by summer.
Along with his resignation came some stern words about the program. According to an interview with the QuadNews, Dansdill expressed his concerns with the series as a whole, stating “in its current structure, the entire series is unsustainable.”
“Mark Thompson recognized, before I did, that I’d become a polarizing figure as QU101 Coordinator,” Dansdill said. “He asked me to resign and rightly so, but you can see why in the design of the course, from the fundamental tension of its theme, to my particular insistence on common methods and common practices to build a stronger community, that it makes anybody polarized.”
According to Dansdill, “academic freedoms” were given up in order to teach the course effectively, with other teachers finding the same. Shahverdian, however, said the course allows ample flexibility within its structure.
“I’m not entirely sure what he’s referring to when he says ‘giving up academic freedoms,’ but it could be the fact that QU101 is a common course,” Shahverdian said. “Are there required things for the course? Absolutely. But the instructor has complete freedom over the classroom environment: how do they want to structure it, what kind of papers they want to write, progression of discussion, etc. In that sense, there is a lot of freedom for professors.”
Dansdill told the Chronicle Sept. 22, 2010 that students who do not think the class is beneficial to their education have a “lack of humility, a lack of open-mindedness, and just plain ignorance and foolishness of youth.”
Freshmen students who have traditionally expressed a dislike to the course view the course as a social tool, rather than anything sustaining.
“In a way, I have given more thought to how I identify myself because identity is the main topic of the course, but to be honest the course hasn’t changed me or the way I think,” freshman Emily Clemente said. “I don’t feel that the course is extremely necessary other than a nice way of meeting people when you first come to campus.”
Shahverdian hopes to change the importance of the courses with connectivity between the three. And although she disagrees with Dansdill’s suggestion for overhaul, she admits there improvements to be done to the program.
“I think it needs some work, but I think it is basically sound,” Shahverdian said. “[Dansdill] talks about the idea of appointing a dean outside of QU. That is an option, but until we figure out exactly what it is we are doing and what the person would be responsible for, it doesn’t make sense to go bring in an outside person.”
Dansdill’s ideas for the future of the program included putting full-time faculty in charge.
“We can no longer ask a full-time faculty member to do this,” Dansdill said. “But if we hire a literate, learned humanist with a deep portfolio in both curricular and pedagogical development, to focus fulltime on the series as an integrated ARC, [ensuring Autonomy, Rigor, and Continuity] of QU’s New Learning Paradigm, the series can survive, even thrive. Otherwise, I think the whole seminar series is in serious danger.”
Having an array of faculty members ranging from different focuses is a strength rather than a detraction, according to Shahverdian. Although this makes for a “constant balancing act,” Shahverdian said she enjoys working with people from all over campus.