English Professor Denied Tenure Without Explanation

In a rare move, Pomona College denied tenure to Assistant Professor of English Meg Worley late last semester.

Although the college has made no official announcement, English Department Chair Kevin Dettmar confirmed that Worley did not receive tenure.

“She was turned down,” Dettmar said. “That’s public knowledge.”

Worley, who has worked at the school since 2004, is currently in the third year of a four-year contract, which expires at the end of 2011.

According to Dettmar, Worley’s case is unusual for the English department. In the “overwhelming majority of cases,” he said, assistant professors receive tenure.

“I don’t know if it’s 80 percent or 90 percent. But it’s certainly a big majority,” he said.

Both students and professors who knew Worley expressed positive feelings toward her.

Professor Pam Bromley, Assistant Director of College Writing, described Worley as “gregarious.”

“She’s talkative and excited about things, and willing to help and share information, and she’s a great person to be around,” said Bromley, who worked with Worley on a pilot program to include Writing Fellows in Worley’s section of English 67.

“She is probably the best professor I have ever had at Pomona College,” said Aaron Brown PO ’11, who took Graphic Novels with Worley last semester and is now in her History of the Book course. “Her class was really good for me. It really pushed me as an English student and writer.”

“I was surprised when I heard she did not get tenure,” Brown added.

Worley, who declined to comment for this article, is teaching Literary Interpretation and History of the Book this semester. Her past courses have included Medieval Women Writers, Arthurian Literature, and a Critical Inquiry course on Children’s Literature.

English department candidates are evaluated on three criteria: teaching, research and service. The first decision on tenure is rendered by the applicant’s department. In the English department, only the six tenured professors can vote. That decision is then passed on to the larger Faculty Personnel Committee, which in turn makes a recommendation to the entire body of tenured professors, known as the cabinet. If the cabinet agrees with the decision of the Faculty Personnel Committee, the recommendation is passed on to the Board of Trustees for final approval.

The English Department would not comment on why Worley did not receive tenure. Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of College Cecilia Conrad declined to comment on the case.

On Dec. 1, Worley, an avid user of the social networking site Twitter, posted, “No tenure for you!” to her account.

Worley has posted over 350 tweets under the pseudonym “mmwwah” since opening her account in late November, including one suggesting she is under consideration for a position at Amherst College.

“She’s a great mind to engage with,” Dettmar said. “She’s a lively thinker, and fun. I will really miss having her in the department. She’s a great presence.”

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