STORY BY MOLLY DIXON
The departure of visiting professor Jason Bohon leaves students in the theater department questioning the recent tuition increase.
On the morning of January 27, Drake student’s received an email from President David Maxwell stating that tuition for full-time undergraduate students will increase by $1,775, or 4.28 percent next fall.
The email said one of the reasons for the hike in education fees is to “ensure that our compensation is competitive so that (Drake) continue(s) to attract and retain the very best.”
While the news of more money out of students’ pockets was not welcomed by most, it infuriated students in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“Honestly, it pissed me off,” Henry Fisher, a first year BFA musical theater major said. “Tuition is going up by almost $2,000 and now they are thinking about cutting one of my favorite professors.”
Many Drake students see his departure as unacceptable and objectionable. “I can see a gap in my profession without him around,” Fisher said. “Every student theater major who has taken a class from him has been positively impacted as a performer. How can you still expect students to be inspired to pursue their art if you take away one of the most important tools to their education?”
Meghan Walters, a first-year theater and public relations major, sees the impact that these elements have brought upon the department as a whole.
“You’re walking the hallways and you hear that people are pissed off,” Walters said. “We made the decision to come to a four-year university to further our education and learn from our professors about our art, and we feel cheated.”
The departure of Professor Bohon has led an active movement to keep the well-loved professor teaching Drake students the modern world of the performance arts.
Maddie Ripperger is a first year BFA musical theater major and the first year representative for Drake Theater People. She organized a letter campaign consisting of gathering 35 emotionally charged letters to try and persuade the department to keep Bohon on board and to stress the necessity of a fourth professor in the theater department.
“We are all extremely passionate about Bohon and we love him, he’s the best professor we’ve ever had and furthermore, we need a fourth professor,” Ripperger said.
Hannah Stibbe, a first year English education and BFA acting major, wrote one of the letters to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and to the Provost at Old Main.
“He has done nothing but amazing things for this department and with the increase in tuition there is no excuse,” Stibbe said. “It would be rude and unjust for them to ignore us.”
The letters have yet to be responded to by adminstration.
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dean Joseph Lenz, stated that he relates to the discouragement students felt from Bohon’s departure.
“In this particular case, much to my disappointment, the theater department didn’t receive the funding asked for,” Lenz said.
“The theater program is a strong magnet in attracting prospective students to Drake. I am committed to making sure the department has the faculty support we need,” Lenz said.
“We will be losing professor Bohon and hopefully we will find another talented person,” Lenz said.
Ripperger said that although the sympathy from the dean and the student population is great, “sympathy isn’t going to advance us in this situation.”
“We came here because we want to learn, for them to take away valuable resources isn’t helping us, and with the way this department is growing it’s not appropriate for us to be citing valuable assets to the department,” Ripperger said.
But despite the passion of the students behind this movement, and the planning of other forms of protests such as sit-ins and petitions underway, an air of depreciation can still be felt by students.
“What saddens me the most is that I can say all sorts of things, talk to whoever I can, but at the end of the day one person or a board of people get to decide the fate of a professor and ultimately the path of a lot of students,” Fisher said. “I want to feel inspired at Drake but I feel outed, hurt, cheated and unenthusiastic.”
Correction: The original version of this article seen in the March 25th edition of the Times-Delphic stated that Prof. Bohon was terminated from his faculty position. Instead, as a visiting professor, his contract was simply not renewed for the 2015-16 school year.