To My former studentsFrom: Prof. Tim Harris
I now write a final letter to all the students who have learned of America’s (and the world’s) past in courses taught between 2002-2004. There are many things I wish I had the opportunity to tell you but I no longer have that chance. Despite the many students who requested me as an instructor for this semester and next semester, I have been told by the powers that be, that I am no longer needed in the department of history.
I taught at both the Corbin campus and the Richmond Campus. Throughout the summer of 2004 I received nearly 60 Emails from former students and from those who have heard of me, my care for the students’ learning history rather than mere indoctrination (I’ll get back to this subject) that they wanted to have me as a professor for HIS 202 and/or 203. I have also taught HIS. 245 and HIS 247.
At the last moment, after being promised a summer Western Civilization II (Corbin) course, and courses to teach in the fall 2004 semester, by the former “Acting Chair” of the history department, Mr. John Wade (Ecomonics Dept.), he stated bluntly to me in an Email that I “was not needed in the fall.”
To those students, past and present, who Emailed me, to those who approached me after class (at both the Corbin and Richmond Campus), I want to say that I apologize for not being allowed to be your history instructor. When you specifically asked for me to be your instructor, though part-time faculty are not compensated nor treated fairly, I offered to teach during the fall semeste for $1,000 per course. This is under 1/2 the cost of what other adjuncts with an M.A. in history.
Yet, despite the university’s cries of a “budget problem,” this offer was never acknowledged. I would teach free-of-charge because I love teaching and I actually care about my students and that they learn history.
I ask my former students who had me as an instructor for HIS 202, 203, 246, and 247 to remember me. Many students said that I had “changed their view of history,” in a positive way. a few students, in fact, either chose history as a major or minor after completing my courses. They did so, and I ask them to come forward because the “powers that be” will think I’m fabricating this, because they said “I was the best professor they ever had.”
No matter where I go nor what I do, I will never forget the many kind words written on my student evaulation forms. I hope I made a difference in your lives. I hope that I showed you that the subject of history matters to us today and is extremely relevant.
You see, many of my former colleagues are much to concerned with tenure and “scholarship” that they forget who pays their salary. It is you, the students, whose tuition money and financial aid keep EKU going.
Having heard the gossip, I can tell you that many professors think of undergraduates as mere “children” whose minds’ are a tabula rasa (or “blank slate”) and actually degrade them in conversations.
If only you knew of what SOME of your professors say about you.
However, this is not a letter meant to condemn my former colleagues in the history department. I graduated with both two BA’s (history and philosophy) and an MA in history from EKU. I know some outstanding history (and philosopy) professors that have taught at EKU. Many are now retired and it is a shame that you will never get to know them.
Finally, I have a special message to you, my former HIS 202, 203, 246, and 247 students and those who have an open mind and will, at least, listen to my words:
1.) When you take a history course at EKU do not believe everything you hear in a lecture to be “absolute truth.” Be skeptical. As Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Well, what I mean is this…just because a history professor says one thing, please keep in mind that she/he is grading you on how well you conform to their opinion/view(s) of history. For example, some thing we “lost” the Vietnam War. We did not. I publicly challengly any history professor to debate this topic with in an open forum in which students can judge for themselves rather than have an opinion shoved down their throats just to be regurgitated on a “blue book” exam a few weeks later! Remember, my former students, that history is a matter of interpretation and the critical job for history professors is NOT to indocrinate you into either the liberal/socialist side or any other. It is the job of historians to teach objectively. I think, though, when it comes to modern American history, that EKU’s history department has little respect for those of us who do not believe in their liberal, left-wing, thought control experiments.
Again, my former colleagues, pick the subject: The war in Iraq, the economy, Kentucky Politics, or why one should pursue graduate study in history and I will debate you publicly, for I want the student to actually see you defend your entrenched