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Van Watson-non renewal of contract

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Professor Fabian Alfie Chair, Department of French and Italian Modern Languages Building University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85721-0067721-0067 Re: non-renewal of contract of William Van Watson, Adjunct Associate Professor of Italian Cc: Dr. Mary Wildner-Bassett, Dean, College of Humanities April 23, 2013 Dear Professor Alfie, We, the undersigned, write to express deep concern over your decision not to renew the contract of Professor William Van Watson. Professor Van Watson has been an adjunct in your department for 13 years and an integral part of your Italian program. His teaching repertoire is impressive, and he has been nominated twice for a teaching award, including this year. His annual performance reviews have always scored in the “Highest Merit” category, the highest category at your institution. In addition, all the while teaching a demanding 6 courses per year, Professor Van Watson has been an active and visible member of the Italian Studies community. Since 1989 he has regularly attended the annual meetings of the American Association for Italian Studies, the American Association for Teachers of Italian, the Modern Language Association, and also a number of theater and film conferences. Professor Van Watson is a highly respected scholar in our profession. Even a cursory overview of publications on Italian cinema reveals how frequently Van Watson’s scholarship is cited. In a recent article entitled “Doing Film History Today,” David Forgacs, a leading scholar from NYU, praises Professor Van Watson as among those scholars who have “managed to illuminate films in ways that are surprising and debarred to conventional textual analysis” (Italian Studies, 63:2, pp. 259-60). We urge you, for the health of your Italian program and that of Italian Studies in general, to follow the best practices regarding contingent faculty published by the Modern Language Association and the American Association of University Professors. For example, the MLA best practices paper on the matter states: “Non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty members should be hired by means of long-term planning whenever possible, to provide for extended terms of appointment consistent with institutional needs, thereby also providing sufficient job security to encourage and support continuing involvement with students and colleagues. NTT faculty members should ideally be hired on three-year contracts with full benefits; after six years, they should be eligible for longer-term review; past six years, they should be given longer (five- or six-year) contracts and be allowed to participate in departmental governance regarding NTT lines.” ( It is our hope that Professor Van Watson will be recognized for his professional contributions and achievements and will be granted the rights that all full-time faculty, tenure track or non-tenure track, deserve. Sincerely yours,


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