Students not informed of professor's death
Students showed up to the first class only to discover that their professor had passed away
September 19, 2011, 7:42 pm·
Students enrolled in the Political Science class “Citizenship and Democratic Development” this semester were shocked when they heard why their professor, the late Henry Teune, couldn’t be at the first day of class.
Last Tuesday, students arrived for the class which was scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. At 2:23 p.m., students received an email from the department informing them of their professor’s death.
“We are so sorry for this last minute cancellation. With Dr. Henry Teune’s passing, this course should have been cancelled over the summer and was an oversight,” the email from Political Science Department Administrator Jennifer Bottomley read.
Teune died on April 12, 2011, and had been a faculty member of the Political Science department since 1961, holding many leadership positions in research projects and organizations at Penn and in the world.
College junior Mallika Vinekar was one of about eight students who showed up to the class.
“We were sitting there for about half an hour and a bit concerned because [the professor] hadn’t posted a syllabus. People were worried there were assignments due that we didn’t know about. We figured he was just late,” she said.
After about half an hour, the students left, and someone went to speak to the department, Vinekar said.
The class had been included on the course offerings for the fall semester through the department’s website and Penn InTouch. It has since been taken off of Penn InTouch and the University Registrar’s course roster.
As of press time, Teune is still listed as an active faculty member on the department’s website.
In addition to “Citizenship and Democratic Development,” Teune taught “Human Rights,” which has been reassigned to Eileen Doherty-Sil, an adjunct associate professor.
Teune co-taught “Citizenship and Democratic Development” along with Professor Ira Harkavy, director of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships and Graduate School of Education professor Matthew Hartley.
Political Science department chairman Edward Mansfield said it may have been the case that the other two professors had expressed interest in continuing to teach the course, but decided not to.
College senior Erin Sougstad, who was enrolled in the class last spring, said that Teune stopped coming to class after two weeks due to health issues.
Sougstad knew that he had died. When she saw that the class was offered again for the fall, she thought it was a “simple oversight.”
A public memorial service will be held on Oct. 5.