As falls from innocence go, learning that many courses in the University's course catalog are not offered every semester rates right next to the truth about the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. But some history majors said they felt particularly disappointed this fall when they found that over one-quarter of the University's 36 history professors were on leave. Perennial favorites such as Jack Reece, Jim Davis and Susan Maquin are out. So are David Ludden, Carol Smith-Rosenberg and Mary Frances Berry. And don't put off taking the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: Thomas Childers will be gone next spring. Although History Department officials maintain that this year's absence rate is close to average, many students said this week that they have found this fall's European and diplomatic history offerings especially lean. "The European was hit real hard," History Department Graduate Chairperson Walter Licht said last week. And the department's two international diplomacy specialists, Marc Trachtenberg and Walter McDougall, are on leave simultaneously. Close to half of the approximately 200 registered history majors have chosen the European track. Perhaps five percent of all history majors opt for the diplomatic sub-specialty, according to History Department Undergraduate Chairperson Robert Engs. College senior Jill Harrison said yesterday that she recenty changed her concentration from the diplomatic track because she feared she would be unable to find courses she wants to meet the requirements. "There are some courses available," she said. "But when you're in your last year, you want to take small courses that interest you and there aren't that many of them." Department officials said yesterday that the University has found replacements for eight of the 10 history professors on leave this fall, but conceded that it is difficult to find visiting professors who can teach courses mirroring the department's curriculum. The problem is exacerbated because many students select courses by the reputation of the professor instead of by a particular course title. "Hiring somebody else to teach American Intellectual History, for example, wouldn't solve the problem because the students don't want to take it from a new person," Engs said yesterday. Department officials said this week that there is no formal way to coordinate leave to avoid gaps in a given specialty. "A department head could certainly urge his or her colleages to reschedule their leaves," Associate Dean Walter Wales said yesterday. "That's easier said than done." But Wales said that he knows of many cases in which professors have rescheduled their leave because of problems covering courses. University policy grants professors one semester of leave at full pay or two semesters of leave at half pay after every six years of service. This leave - known as sabbatical leave - is subject to review by the Provost's Office. But the requests are not often rejected, according to Wales. In addition, professors who receive outside scholarships are categorically permitted to take leave without pay regardless of their sabbatical leave. Because news of outside fellowships often does not arrive until April or May, it is especially difficult for department officals to plan ahead. Professors almost never reject these prestigious offers. Engs said the University has little impetus to discourage professors from taking these fellowships since it often costs less to hire a replacement lecturer than to pay a senior professor's salary.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.