Students protest termination of professor as full-time faculty numbers drop

By Kristen DeMatos | Published Dec. 9, 2015

    Dr. Michael Chattalas, a tenure-track professor who teaches marketing at Kean, faces the chopping block, according to a new student petition that has emerged online. The latest numbers from the university indicate that he’s not alone.

    The student-created petition states, “This is a petition to let our President and Board know that we, as a Kean Community, vehemently oppose the dismissal of Dr. Chattalas and see this as a significant loss, one that will adversely affect the future of Kean’s Global Business School and the College of Business.”

    The number of tenured faculty has been on a steady decline since 2011, according to institutional research from the university. In 2011, there were 261 tenured members of faculty, compared to the 216 tenured in the fall of 2015.

    Kean Federation of Teachers President Dr. James Castiglione, who represents full-time faculty and staff , said the decline in numbers is “creating a severe shortage that undermines our ability to provide a quality education to our students,” in an e-mail.

    In the last few years, the number of tenured professors has fallen while the number of lecturers has risen. According to the office of institutional research, the Union campus had 95 “full professors” in the fall of 2014. That number has fallen to 83 as of the fall of 2015.

    In the fall of 2014, there were 91 lecturers on the Union campus, and that number has risen to 122 in the fall of 2015.

    Meanwhile, the number of adjuncts, or part-time professors remains at about 1000.

    “We have many high quality adjuncts here at the university,” Castiglione said. “But with that said, adjuncts are limited course by course and don’t have the same responsibilities as full-time professors. They don’t have impact on advisement, they don’t do grant writing, they don’t have offices and therefore don’t have office hours to meet with students.”

    Kean spokeswoman Margaret McCorry noted that adjuncts often work full-time within their fields, which brings real-world experience to students.

    “Kean students are taught by a highly-qualified group of professors made up of full-time faculty, full-time lecturers and adjuncts,” she said. “Each is a vital member of our academic community. Adjunct faculty often are working fulltime within their fields, and they bring that real-world experience and outlook to campus.”

    For the students of Chattalas, these drops in numbers are causing them to lose a professor they feel is essential to their learning, their program, and the university as a whole.

    “He took me under his wing when he saw my struggle at the beginning of my college career,” said Global Business Major Jonatan Fernandez. “He saw my potential and recruited me to the Global Business Program.”

    Another student, Evelyn Roque, had high praises for him as well.

    “The amount of knowledge that he shares cannot be obtained in any other class,” she said. “He comes with real world experience, he has traveled to different countries teaching in different universities.”

    Marketing major Jairo Ramirez, a student of Chattalas, does not understand why the university would let go of a professor with “expertise in the international marketing, global business, and cross-cultural consumer behavior.”

    “His professionalism and respect for students as an educator was far beyond what any professor at Kean University has offered,” said Ramirez.

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