Prof Lee Kesselman, Chair of Music Programs, Comments to BOT | Feb 20, 2020

Members of the Board of Trustees, President Caputo, administrators and faculty colleagues,

My name is Lee Kesselman. I have been a full time faculty member at COD since 1981, a total of 39 years of service to the college and district 502. During that time, I have served under 6 presidents, and roughly an equal number of deans, chief academic officers, and performing arts administrators. I have spent most of my professional life at COD and have found this a great place to work and teach. I have been the only chairperson the music program has ever had, and I have served on many search committees, including five F-T members of the music faculty. As a member of search committees, I have always encouraged prospective faculty that COD is a great place to work, a high level institution and one where they would be treated fairly and professionally.

So imagine my dismay and astonishment when my outstanding colleagues Dr. Lucille Mok of Music and Professor Jackie Weaver of Art found out last week that they were not being recommended for tenure by the Provost. That news blindsided all of us who teach with Dr. Mok and Professor Weaver, plus both of them. As someone who frequently watches Dr. Mok teach and is probably as familiar with her work as anyone at the College, I am stunned… and will speak toward her situation.

She is an OUTSTANDING teacher and colleague and, in the opinion of her colleagues, well deserving of tenure. It is of further concern that she wasn’t even supposed to know that she was being denied tenure until after the Board packet came out.

Let me draw you an analogy —-
Let’s say you or one of your children were a student in my classroom. You received positive feedback from me on every assignment and classroom activity during the semester. Sometime during the last weeks of the term, one of your assignments fell below your normal work. Since that assignment was only one of many, you passed it off as a good learning experience. When the term ended, I told you that you were a solid A student.

But when you opened your grade reports you found that you had failed the course because I had been overruled by my boss, who had judged your work unacceptable, based upon the one sub-par assignment. When you asked about the decision, you were told that, unbeknownst to you, that one grade counted for more than all the other work you did in the course. You were told that you could do nothing about this until after the grade was made a part of your permanent record. Your only recourse would be to re-take the course, this time with my superior as your instructor, and hope that your work was acceptable to him this time around.

If that happened, I think you would find the process opaque, unfair and arbitrary.

I submit that this is much the position in which both Professors Mok and Weaver find themselves. Members of the Board, this is not the way this fine institution has done business in my 39 years here. I suggest that you re-consider the Provost’s recommendation in light of both the evaluation of their immediate supervisor and the process by which this decision has been made.

Thank you very much for your time and attention.