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Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 6.3.10




An Exceptional Teacher

UO students organizing to keep Ken De Bevoise

By David J. Delmar

Universities are centers of learning; about this there can be little debate. Additionally, the right to attend college, in this country at least, must be individually purchased, and often results in the accumulation of mountains of debt for purchasers. It is truly depressing, in light of the combination of these facts, that America’s students seem so complacent about and uninterested in the quality of the educational service they receive during those formative three to five years. 

At universities across the country — places where the potential for knowledge gain is limitless — students content themselves with professors who have no qualm about putting forth almost zero effort in educating them, who mindlessly and un-engagingly lecture them, who treat them abrasively and as nuisances, and who demand hardly any work from them in return. It is to the credit of students when they, as consumers and citizens, band together and mobilize to oppose this — the sorry, intolerable and pervasive status quo.

The UO is home today to just such a group of students. The Keep Ken Coalition, a large, diverse and cohesive group of passionate and dedicated students — all of whom have reservations about the current state of undergraduate education at their institution — operates to oppose the recent decision by the campus’ Department  of Political Science to phase out Dr. Ken De Bevoise. Among the over 400 members of the Keep Ken Coalition there is not a single student, current or past, who won’t enthusiastically attest to the exceptional effectiveness of De Bevoise’ teaching, his exceptional devotion to his students, his exceptional value to the UO, or to how exceptionally bad the decision to let him go would be for the school. The Coalition has a website (www.keepkencoalition.org) at which one can read about De Bevoise’ career, can view the incredible teaching evaluations students have written about him during it, and can be acquainted with the fervid appreciation of students, both current and past, for the profound impact his teaching has had or is currently having on their academic careers and lives.

The Keep Ken Coalition’s laudable efforts in pursuit of its goal include mass letter writing campaigns to the UO administration, buying and selling T-shirts, creating a website (as seen above), being featured in news media across the state (including The Oregonian and The Lars Larson Show) and various meetings with top administration officials. It has done all of these things in order to proliferate its message: Student voices about education, as consumers and subjects, must be heard and heeded. Through passion and hard work, the Keep Ken Coalition has been successful in proliferating that message, and a faculty review of the decision to phase out De Bevoise has been ordered by Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Dr. Russ Tomlin. 

In the coming weeks, that review will be complete, and a new decision on whether or not to keep De Bevoise at the UO will be rendered. That new decision, coming in the wake of fiery opposition to the initial one, will indubitably carry with it important implications for the state of undergraduate education. It can only be hoped that the faculty at the UO, in reviewing the tragic decision to not keep De Bevoise, will make the right decision and reverse it. That the right decision is to keep Ken at the UO is simply inarguable; it is the result that the valuable insight of the student body demands. 

Any and all who are interested in this are advised to visit www.keepkencoalition.org and to contact the members of the coalition to find out how support for its cause can be given.

David J. Delmar is a political science major at UO.