On Thursday, November 3, 2022 – my last official day as an employee of UWEC per Chancellor Schmidt’s termination notice, I said goodbye to my colleagues and students. Given the circumstances, hosting a gathering was out of the question so I sent an email. Within minutes, I began to receive a flood of responses from students, faculty, staff and even parents who had been forwarded the message. All supportive – except one. Professor Jose Alvergue – a tenured associate professor in the English Department replied with an insult, an accusation, and career advice intended to offend me and diminish my professional value.
Professor Alvergue is among those who signed the “collective” letter that was anonymously leaked to the press. Many of the faculty who signed that letter have since apologized, explaining they were pressured into signing and did not realize how the letter would be used – or how they were being used.
Tenure offers academic freedom, which protects faculty from being fired for content taught in the classroom – but it was not intended to shield faculty from the consequences of creating a hostile work environment where they can freely attack coworkers. What will the consequences be for Professor Alvergue’s behavior? Realistically – none.
There is a core of employees that rattle Chancellor Schmidt knowing he will always choose to placate them. These are the predatory people willing to take advantage of his well-known weakness. They run UWEC.
To be clear, I experienced kindness and professionalism among the great majority of employees at UWEC. These former colleagues keep their heads down and do their work – hoping to stay out of the cross hairs. These people deserve a strong leader who will rebuild a respectful work environment that produces the best outcomes for students. It is my hope that they will get one.