The Educational Studies Department will be down two professors, one tenured and one tenure-track, by the end of the year, but only one vacancy will be replaced through a national search process.
Just before the start of fall term, then-department chair Jason Helfer took a position with the Illinois State Board of Education as its new Assistant Superintendent for Teacher and Leader Effectiveness.
Additionally, Assistant Professor Kelton Williams will be stepping down from his position at the end of the academic year to live with his wife in Washington, D.C. Williams’ position will be filled through a national search process, the standard procedure for vacated tenure-track positions.
But according to new co-chair Stephen Schroth, that will not be the case for Helfer’s position. Schroth told TKS that Helfer is technically on a leave of absence, and there is no word yet on a search.
Dean of the College Laura Behling, who deals with faculty personnel considerations, declined to comment on Helfer’s specific case and said there is “no indication one direction or the other that there will be a search.”
Emails requesting comment from Helfer were not returned, along with multiple calls to his ISBE office.
Helfer is no longer listed on the educational studies faculty page of the Knox website.
Despite these changes, Schroth is confident that students’ experience in the department will not be affected, and majors will still be able to graduate in four years.
Schroth said with some rearranged faculty schedules and more reliance on lecturers, the department was able to maintain the normal level of course offerings. He and other remaining faculty are taking on Helfer’s administrative duties, such as reports for state certifications and field placements for students.
Behling believes students will not be worse off with expanded roles for lecturers, as opposed to more faculty with terminal degrees.
“I think all the faculty we hire to teach at Knox … are very good and obviously qualified, otherwise we wouldn’t hire them,” she said.