Debate Goes On: What Is UIC's role? | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Debate Goes On: What Is UIC's role?

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To the editors:

Ben Joravsky's Neighborhood News report (November 21, 1986) on Dick Simpson's complaints about the University of Illinois at Chicago contains so many distortions that it is impossible to argue with it. But two particular issues on which the article is very misleading should be clarified.

In his first column Joravsky tells us that the draft of the Stukel white paper on research issued in the winter of 1986 has been revised. Later in the article, however, he cites long quotations, advocating policies such as that humanities professors be required to bring in $6,000 in grant money and that research professors be replaced in the classroom by adjunct faculty. The story implies that such requirements are in the current version of the white paper. They are not. In fact none of the specific points to which Simpson objects are in the current draft. The UIC administration has accepted a number of the criticisms of the first draft. For his own reasons Simpson is now making a public fuss over a set of policies that do not exist.

Simpson is the only member of the teaching faculty the article quotes. His conception of the university's urban mission and how it can be fulfilled, despite what the article implies, is not that of all faculty, or even of all the socially concerned, faculty. Simpson speaks for very few of us.

How to improve the university and how to make it responsive to the needs of the city are important and much debated issues on campus. In this debate Simpson stands as a kind of social fundamentalist demanding that the university help solve the problems of the city by' offering a university education to all. But you can't improve conditions in the city simply by offering a diploma that says "university" to more people. Certain consciences might be salved by such manipulations, but it seems more like fraud than social change to me. Competition with Harvard has nothing to do with our goals or our mission. We are simply trying to offer our students the best education we can conceive. From my own experience at a number of universities I am convinced that a faculty active in research is also a faculty with more to offer its students in the classroom.

John Huntington

Associate Professor of English, UIC

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