For those of you who are unfamiliar with the situation, Dr. Emeric Schultz recently retired as director of the Bloomsburg University honors program after serving that post for over seven years. In lieu of his departure from the program, Dr. Stephen Kokoska of the mathematics department was named his successor. The Honors Advisory Committee, a group of faculty and honors student representatives, recommended Dr. Kokoska for the position after a lengthy interview process that also considered several other candidates. The Committee, or H.A.C. for short, examined a variety of materials ranging from resumes to student letters of approval in forming their recommendation, which confirmed the appointment of Dr. Kokoska by Dr. Jonathan Lincoln (Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs) on December 12.
Dr. Kokoska’s placement as honors director is currently “on hold,” however, after allegations of “favoritism” were made by another candidate following the interview process. Naturally, the situation has upset the majority of the honors program students who fully support Dr. Kokoska as their new director. This contention that there was an unfair bias towards Koskoka during the voting process by no means should be taken lightly based on the subject matter of allegations, and as evident by the negative effect the subsequent investigation into the process is currently having on the honors program. Currently the program is operating without a director and is coping with the difficulty and frustration the situation has thrust upon it.
Given the nature of this whole situation, and its ongoing aftermath, Bloomsburg students would expect to be informed by the University of its occurrence and the steps that are currently being taken to look into the matter. Furthermore, students who are members of the Bloomsburg University honors program, the group that is being directly affected by the situation, should certainly be informed as well.
For whatever reason though, Bloomsburg University has declined to make this situation public. The concealment of some of the information regarding the allegations to protect those who raised them is not under scrutiny here.
The fact that these happenings are not being announced to the University students, however, is. No emails were sent to the student body, no mention was made on the school website; certainly no effort has been made to address the related matters most important to students in the program.
It can certainly be argued that those not in the honors program do not need to be made aware of circumstances since they are not affected by it. Leaving the students actually in the program out of the loop, however, cannot be defended. On January 7, Dr. Kokoska himself sent an email out to each honors student, informing the students of the situation, and that he would not be able to serve as director of the program until it has been resolved. As of this date, the University still has not sent any form of communication out to the honors students regarding the matter. Furthermore, no updates have been provided to the same students. Aside from Dr. Kokoska’s personal letter to the honors students, no mention of the process has been made to anyone in the program or outside of it. This is an embarrassing display of ignorance, indifference, and/or lack of organization by University officials who are hired to keep the student body updated with campus happenings.
The course which the University has taken to address, better yet, not address, this situation cannot help but to prompt questions of suspicion from those honors students adversely affected by it. This University is by no means slow to report campus news to its students, as is evident by the ever-changing content on the Today page of the website, as well as mass emails sent on a daily basis. Thus not reporting the controversy regarding the honors program director search raises some eyebrows.
As a four-year member of the Bloomsburg University Honors Program, I feel betrayed by the University for not informing its honors students of these happenings. This program not only means a lot to me, but also to the students, faculty, and administrative staff that benefit from it. This error, whether intentional or not, is unacceptable, and the program and its members deserve better than this kind of treatment.
Andrew Wakelee is a Senior Secondary Ed, History Major and a contributing writer for The Voice.