Three Professors Granted Tenure

by Jim Amidon

December 17, 2010

Wabash President Pat White has announced that three members of the faculty have been granted tenure. Classicist Jeremy Hartnett, education professor Michele Pittard, and mathematics professor Chad Westphal have received tenure and will be promoted to the rank of associate professor.
“In granting tenure to Professors Hartnett, Pittard, and Westphal, Wabash recognizes their individual achievements and their excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service to the students and the College,” said President White. “We also signify our excitement about the future contributions each will make to the vitality of the College as they continue to make a difference in leading Wabash to new heights.”
With tenure, the three teachers receive promotions to associate professor. Each has undergone bi-annual reviews by colleagues, department chairs, division chairs, and the dean. Each was carefully critiqued on their teaching, scholarship, and community involvement.
Dr. Hartnett says the receiving tenure is a humbling experience. “So many different people have a say in a tenure decision here: alumni and current students are asked to write letters or are interviewed about a faculty member's teaching; Wabash colleagues weigh in on college citizenship; and senior professors from other institutions evaluate a tenure candidate's scholarship,” explained the 1996 Wabash graduate. “So, a successful tenure case is, in some senses, an affirmation from the multiple communities who have put my work under the microscope.”
“I am very proud of and impressed by our three newly tenured faculty colleagues,” said Dean of the College Gary A. Phillips, who led the reviews. “Jeremy, Chad and Michele bring excellence to the classroom, to the curriculum, and to our shared life as a community. Our students, present and future, are the real beneficiaries.”
Dr. Hartnett is an honors graduate of Wabash, who earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Since his return to Wabash in 2004 as a faculty member, he has been a leader of international immersion learning programs for Wabash students. His research has focused on the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.
Dean Phillips said Professor Hartnett’s boundless energy and passion are hallmarks of his teaching.
“Infectious passion for the ancient world and a critical imagination that brings the past to life mark Jeremy Hartnett’s teaching and scholarship,” said Dean Phillips. “Whether in his introductory Latin class or on an immersion trip in Rome, Jeremy shows how careful attention to language, architecture, literature, and image shapes a discerning eye and an empathetic intelligence. His focus on the concrete street life of Pompeii sends the message to students that liberal arts learning not only makes the past sensible, but also equips them with the means to live humanely in the present. Jeremy’s is a model of interdisciplinary teaching and research and compelling evidence of the vital role Classics plays in the Wabash mission.”
“I'm honored to join this faculty because I hold it in such high esteem,” said Hartnett. “This is especially true of my departmental colleagues, who first inspired me to pursue this field as a Wabash undergrad and who have provided ceaseless support and encouragement since I've come back to campus. I'm looking forward to the formidable challenge of carrying on the legacy of Leslie and Joe Day, David Kubiak, and John Fischer.”
Michele Pittard came to Wabash in the teacher education department in 2002 after earning her undergraduate degree from Butler University and her master’s degree and Ph.D. from Purdue University.
“To be rewarded tenure and to be among such talented colleagues, who are both teachers and scholars at an institution like Wabash is, quite frankly, my proudest professional moment,” Pittard said. “Personally, as a teacher of teachers, it is especially gratifying to be recognized for the work I do with students in the classroom!”
Dr. Pittard has been known for traveling with her teacher education students to Chicago public schools and to rural outposts in Ecuador to provide them with a wide range of experiences and prepare them to be leaders in their schools.
“No Wabash faculty member has a more direct hand in improving the quality of public and private high school teaching than Michele Pittard,” said Dean Phillips. "Her expert management of the Teacher Education program and shepherding of students through the rigorous certification process, her classroom based research program with its outreach to area high school teachers, and her transforming impact on students inside and outside the classroom signals Wabash at its best. A resolute voice for faculty self-reflection and improvement, Michele practices what she teaches, and in so doing insures that the quality of Wabash teacher education as a vibrant liberal art remains high.”
Chad Westphal came to Wabash in 2004 as an assistant professor of mathematics. He earned his bachelor's degree from Oral Roberts University, his master’s degree from Tulsa, and his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado.
Westphal has been engaged in all aspects of the community, teaching in Wabash’s advanced summer algebra institute; spearheading the College’s development of a dual degree program in engineering with Purdue University; and serving as general contractor for the new Milligan Park Skate Park.
That level of engagement has impressed Dean Phillips.
“Evidence of Chad's significant engagement with and impact upon the College is visible everywhere: as nationally recognized teacher/scholar in the Mathematics/Computer Science department; as advocate for shared student/faculty research; as key negotiator forging the new engineering partnership with Purdue; as the driving force behind Crawfordsville’s new skate park, to name but a few,” said Phillips. “Chad demonstrates the ability to make the complicated accessible and the seemingly impossible doable whether working with mathematical proofs, institutional agreements, or city officials. Chad gets good things done; he elevates the standard of excellence for Wabash students and his faculty colleagues.”
“Having tenure allows me to think long term in a way I never have before,” said Dr. Westphal. I am very fortunate to be at a school that shares my outlook on higher education and one that values my contributions and pushes me to excellence in my career. Wabash has always given me the flexibility and support to be creative and daring in my teaching and research, and having tenure is both an endorsement of my work so far as well as an invitation to plant deep roots here.”
While the process of tenure focuses largely on past teaching, research, and scholarship, all three of Wabash’s new associate professors agree that it’s the future that is most exciting.
Harnett explains: “As much as the process of trying to get tenure requires looking back at one's work, receiving tenure makes it fun to think about the future: plotting ways to take Wallies to my favorite overseas destinations, digging into new and more adventurous research projects, and anticipating the rewards of working closely with our diligent, talented, and funny students.”
The tenure for all three professors is effective immediately; the promotion to associate professor is effective July 1.


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