A petition advocating for School of Engineering and Applied Science professor Clayton Greenberg’s position as a professor and advisor at Penn has received over 300 signatures.
Greenberg is currently a lecturer of computer and information science at Penn and teaches CIS 160: Mathematical Foundations of Computer Science in the spring semester. Greenberg receiving a low average course evaluation score prompted fears of his termination, according to the petition.
Greenberg wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian that he did not want to share his evaluation score because it could still change. He explained that evaluation scores are used to determine whether lecturers in his position are reappointed, but the University has yet to inform him of his status.
The petition was created by data science master’s degree student Matthew Kligerman, who has Greenberg as his graduate advisor.
“He’s a good advisor, so I felt that I should do something about it,” Kligerman told the DP. However, he noted that he never actually had Greenberg as a professor.
Kligerman also wrote a letter addressed to the Engineering School explaining why he thinks Professor Greenberg deserves to teach at Penn. He cited reasons such as the detriment it would impose on the data science program and emphasized that average course review scores are not always a reliable indicator of teaching quality.
“Knowing the type of the person he is, he has a lot of the attributes that I feel a lot of professors at Penn lack,” said Kligerman. “He’s somebody that really wants to help others and wants them to improve and succeed.”
Kligerman stressed the importance of Penn evaluating professors in more comprehensive ways, providing them with a path to improvement. Otherwise, a downturn in the University’s quality of education would directly follow, according to his letter.
The petition has garnered comments from students who have taken his courses at Penn, many of them positively reflecting on their experience with Greenberg and his teaching.
“I took his big data course. He explains every concept in careful simple detail and is eminently fair in considering your individual needs as a student,” a petition commenter named John Gregg wrote. “I’m surprised that he received a low average course evaluation score.”
Greenberg said that he did not originally imagine that the petition would gain so much traction.
“[Kligerman] asked if it would be okay if he did this, but I had in mind something on paper that would’ve gone to 10 people,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg, who advises over 100 students in the Data Science Department, noted that he had experienced a “disconnect” in his advisee relationships compared to the relationships he has with students.
Even though there is a different dynamic between his students in class and the students he advises, Greenberg still enjoys teaching CIS 160 and wishes to continue teaching it in coming semesters.