The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Troubled by SMU financial decisions

I am writing today as an SMU alumna (MA ’92) and the mother of an alumnus (BA ’93) about Professor George Henson’s column, “Troubling Funds,” in the Jan. 23 edition of The Daily Campus.

SMU prepares students to enter the working world or pursue graduate studies either at SMU or another prestigious university. My own son was accepted for graduate study at Syracuse University (MA ’96), Columbia University (MS ’96) and is now a third-year student at UCLA Law School.

I delayed my writing to take the time to search the SMU Web site in an effort to find out the status of what, to me, seems to be an appalling situation. I was surprised that the latest information I could find dated back to a task force in 2003.

We ask – no, we demand the best from the SMU faculty (both tenured and non-tenured). I know that for that standard to be achieved it requires continued study and research whether or not peer-reviewed articles are ever published.

When I read that a professor is paid $30,000 per year and has zero job security, it strikes at the core of my pride in being an SMU alumna. For this sorry state of affairs, I believe some basic budgetary realignment is needed. From my perspective, SMU’s priorities need to be changed. When we ask professors to provide a first-class education they should not be paid third- or fourth-class compensation.

When I drove around the campus I saw construction rising. I walked about the campus looking at the various buildings. Clements Hall, which houses foreign languages, is in a dreadful state. I did not study foreign language at SMU but have come to believe it is critically important. I say this because the study of a foreign language is more than just the ability to attain some degree of facility speaking a language. Studying a foreign language requires critical thinking, retention of material studied, active class participation, a review of English grammar and a study of the cultures where a language is spoken. In addition, we live in an increasingly small world which raises the importance of expanding our knowledge of world cultures and languages.

So, what can I conclude is necessary for SMU to do at this time? First, the financial decision makers at SMU must be made acutely aware of the inherent importance of the study of foreign languages and the facilities necessary. If there is not, there should be a foreign language requirement in the core curriculum of every student receiving an undergraduate degree at SMU – this for the reasons stated above. Second (not really a second but another first) should be an immediate implementation of salary increases targeted at non-tenured professors whose financial lives must be improved especially since they are in continual jeopardy of being destroyed. Man does not live by bread alone but without it nothing else is possible.

Marjorie Stamper is an SMU alumna. She can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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