By Tiffany Pelt - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – Texas Tech University's Honors College Dean is stepping down after 17 years because of unresolved issues with decisions made by the current administration.
Founding Honors College Dean Doctor Gary Bell put in his resignation in January after writing a letter outlining issues concerning the Honors College. Bell says his efforts for improvements were ignored. "That was kind of the last straw. Much to my surprise there was no response," says Bell.
Bell says many problems effected his decision to step down, including classrooms traditionally used for the Honors College suddenly being taken away in August. "No one has told me first of all that those classes were going to be taken away, and secondly no one's explained to me why they were taken away. I'm the dean of the college - that's a bit of a slap in the face," says Bell.
On top of that Honors College courses have been cut from about 80 to less than 50. "I think the Honors College could grow to 1,500 to 2,000 students, but you can't keep adding students when you're cutting courses because courses are the absolute essence of what an Honors program is about," said Bell.
Texas Tech Provost and Vice President Bob Smith says, as in many college honors programs, professors are asked to volunteer to teach the courses. Smith says that could be a reason the course numbers have dropped.
Bell says he's having problems recruiting professors to teach the courses because research for tier one status has taken priority, stretching professors thin with huge workloads. "The vast majority of the resources have been shifted dramatically to the research function, and I think from my judgment the Honors College has been hurt by this. There has been less emphasis on undergraduate education," says Bell.
Smith disagrees and says they're currently looking for more professors. "We're not going to lose our quality undergraduate focus by going to a tier one institution. We're going to be a great public research university and we're not going to lose our legacy and our commitment to high quality undergraduate education," says Smith.
Bell's resignation takes effect May 31st, but he will continue to be a history professor at Tech. Smith says the Honors College faculty will make nominations for the interim dean, and says they're positive they'll have one named by the time Bell steps down.
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