BVU Faculty Resignations Come With Little to No Warning


Photos courtesy of BV University Marketing & Communications

Olivia Wieseler, Editor-in-Chief

Over the summer of 2018, four faculty at Buena Vista University resigned from their jobs after already signing their contracts for the upcoming year: Dr. Melinda Coogan, associate professor of biology; Dr. Timothy Ehler, associate professor of chemistry; Dr. Asligul Erkan, assistant professor of finance; and Miranda Pollock, assistant professor of graphic design. 

Dr. Peter Steinfeld, dean of faculty, said that each faculty member had other opportunities come up that BVU didn’t want to hold them back from. 

“You’d like to say, ‘no you can’t leave,’ but you can’t really do that to somebody who really has something they really want to do.” 

Coogan accepted a position at Baylor University in Waco, Texas; Erkan took a position at East Carolina University at its School of Business; and Pollock took a position at Peru State College near Omaha, Nebraska. Steinfeld believes Ehler is focusing on farming and continuing to teach online classes through BVU.   

Even though they had great opportunities to pursue, and other personal commitments to take care of, it still meant a lot of change, quick-thinking, and tough decisions for BVU. 

“You’re sort of caught hanging, students especially, are caught hanging with courses that they’ve signed up for and faculty members they’ve made plans with,” Steinfeld said. “And those plans are sort of thrown to the wind, thrown out the window.” 

One such plan was the Global Fellows Program, led by Coogan.  After she left, BVU terminated the program, leaving six students, who were anticipating a trip to Chile in January, surprised and disappointed.   

Global Fellows wasn’t the only thing to feel the loss of these four faculty members.  Many students who were close to these professors were sad to see them go.  Marco Uribe, a junior computer science major with a biology minor, was an academic assistant for Coogan and traveled on the Global Fellows trip with her.  He felt torn between losing her at BV and her getting to pursue something important to her. 

“On the most selfish level, [I’m] disappointed that we lost a good member of our staff here, but also, on a non-selfish level, [I’m] happy for her for doing what she thinks is best.” 

Losing faculty like Coogan made it hard to find replacements and cover classes.  However, Steinfeld said many professors stepped in to help cover the classes that were meant to be taught by those who left.  Dr. Ben Maas, assistant professor of environmental science and geology, took on an extra class to replace Ehlers.  Dr. James Hampton and Dr. Bob Brodman, professor and associate professor of biology, respectively, agreed to split Coogan’s part of Biological Principles I.   

“It may not be ideal, it may not be perfect, but we do our best to try to make sure that we figure out at least a viable solution even if it’s not perfect,” said Steinfeld.  “That’s what’s really cool about the BV community, people are always working to step up to try to help.” 

Pollock was replaced with Daniel Séman.  There is no set plan quite yet for replacement positions for Coogan, Ehler, or Erkan.  Steinfeld said that because enrollment has been lower, they have been careful with all new hires to make sure that there is a need for them.