WLP student pushes for more publishing classes

by Beacon Staff • February 7, 2007

One WLP major is hoping to change that.

Jessica Ganon, the WLP senator for Emerson's undergraduate Student Government Association, has brought the issue to the attention of the chair of her department, Daniel Tobin, in the hope of adding at least one more publishing section to the curriculum.,For writing, literature and publishing majors at Emerson, there's plenty of the W and the L, but the P is less accessible, according to some students.

One WLP major is hoping to change that.

Jessica Ganon, the WLP senator for Emerson's undergraduate Student Government Association, has brought the issue to the attention of the chair of her department, Daniel Tobin, in the hope of adding at least one more publishing section to the curriculum.

"For something that is the P in our major, it's a very small percent of our classes," said the sophomore WLP major. "It's just about getting it approved by the dean of the school. I would like more than one section, but we'll take it, and it's better than nothing."

Dean of the School for the Arts, which houses the WLP department, Dr. Grafton J. Nunes confirmed that the students' concerns are being taken into account.

"We have increased the number of fulltime faculty to the greatest extent in the past years," Nunes said. "We are looking into it by both adding part and full time [teachers] but full time is clearly where we would like to focus because it not only provides teaching but mentorship as well."

According to Tobin, there are between 550 and 600 undergraduate WLP students, in addition to 250 graduate students.

All publishing classes are on the 300 level, which are available mostly to juniors and seniors. Many have enrollment limits from 12 to 18 students, depending on the class. Currently, there are only seven sections of publishing classes offered compared to 32 literature sections and 76 writing sections, which can often seat up to 25 students, according to Tobin.

According to Tobin, there are a total of 41 literature courses; with 20 in the 200 level, ten in the 300 level and 11 in the 400.writing hosts 81 total classes; with 37 in level 100, 15 in 200, 18 in 300 and 11 in 400.

In contrast, publishing has two classes in the 200 level, eight in the 300 and two in the 400 level; making a total of only 12 classes.

Tobin is looking to hire one or two more full-time faculty as soon as he is able.

"I hope to have another line [on a new teacher] of some kind by the beginning of next year, but it depends on the needs of other departments," said Tobin.

Junior WLP major Daniel Petrino said he was unable to get into any publishing classes last semester, and got the last seat in the magazine publishing course he is currently taking.

"There are tons and tons of writing classes and tons and tons of lit classes," said Petrino. "Publishing is really popular, but it's hard to explore it."

Tobin said he agrees and has made the search for a new publishing teacher the first priority for faculty in his department.

"We offer the right kind of classes in publishing but can't accommodate the growing interest," Tobin said.

One of the main issues arises out of the physical space available for classes. The number of sections offered is based on the need of all the departments. Potentially, if WLP gets all of the sections it needs, another department will be shorted.

That same concern is carried over into the hiring, since the college's financial resources are limited and the budget for any given hiring cycle cannot accommodate all of the demand for new faculty.

Some current teachers even perform double duty, as is the case for a WLP professor hired in 2006 who teaches both a magazine publishing class and a column writing class.

"There are seven large departments, and they all have legitimate and urgent faculty needs," Tobin said. "We are taking the needs very seriously and looking at the most equitable way to fill all the needs of the entire school, not just WLP."

Kerry O'Donnell, a senior WLP major with an emphasis in publishing, has been facing problems since she was a freshman.

"I've been struggling with this issue for three years here," she wrote in an e-mail to The Beacon. "It is only through sheer luck that I have been able to take the courses I wanted."

Tobin said he is not sure whether or not he will be able to hire a new full-time teacher since there are a limited number of new hires allowed each year.

Still, WLP students interviewed remain unsatisfied.

"We pay $34,000 per year," Petrino said. "We should be able to take the classes we want."