HAMMOND | A group of Purdue University Calumet students, alumni and professors have rallied to ask the college to reconsider the termination of a well-regarded lecturer.
Val Martinez's position as a lecturer in the Department of History and Political Science is scheduled to fall victim to the cutbacks the university announced in March as a way to make up a $4 million revenue shortfall. The university plans to eliminate nearly 50 academic-related positions, though the reductions will not affect tenure or tenure-track faculty, officials with the institutions have said.
Martinez, who previously worked for the U.S. Department of State, said he received notice a few weeks ago that his Purdue Calumet position would be eliminated in December.
Since then, a flurry of alumni and professors have written letters to college administrators on Martinez's behalf, and a group of students reportedly have begun an email campaign.
“It's hard to see them want to get rid of someone who has lived the life and has advice on, 'Where do you want to go with your career,' and things like that,” Purdue Calumet senior Shannon Phillips said. “I just got into law school. ... He's the only one that takes the time to go over LSAT study material.”
Purdue University Calumet spokesman Wes Lukoshus said in an email to The Times that “there is no ideal way to make decisions relating to the elimination of positions."
Lukoshus said Martinez, along with another Purdue Calumet faculty member, has taught courses to assist students preparing for the LSAT, an exam required for entrance by law schools.
Lukoshus said the university is exploring developing a legal studies track within its existing multidisciplinary studies degree, which is designed for students who want to attend law school and other graduate-level professional programs. But no decision has been made on the program, he said.
Many of the letters provided to The Times on Wednesday call on the university to reinstate Martinez, who is described as a “true mentor” with an immeasurable impact on students.
“Outstanding professors are hard to come across, and for PUC to have an asset like Martinez and not even realize what he offers to the students is truly mind-boggling,” former student Kristal Gruevski wrote in a letter to Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Ralph Rogers. “It really saddens me that PUC cannot see what this man has done for his students."