Letter to the Editor: March 30, 2017

Most in the Whittier College community are now aware of the decision that has been reached with regards to the nonrenewal of Professor Teresa Delfín. As reported by the QC last week, Darrin Good briefly discussed the decision not to renew Professor Delfín, apparently as the result of a consensus decision reached by the [FPC] committee’s five active members. The FPC cited “[Delfín’s] performance in the areas of classroom teaching, advising, and service to the College and community” as reasons for their decision. I am simultaneously baffled and enraged by this decision and I hope to make the reasons for my disappointment clear to both FPC and my fellow students with this letter.

In last week’s QC article about this decision, Professor Delfín expressed some doubt about the validity of the evidence provided by the FPC given that no members of the FPC have seen her teach nor have they discussed her service to our community with the students touched most directly by her advising. As one of those students that Delfín has touched, I feel compelled to share with the FPC and the student body the kind of influence that Professor Delfín has had on my education. 

 In my time at Whittier, I have studied abroad with Professor Delfín three times, taken six of her courses, come under her advisement, worked for her as a research assistant, asked her to sponsor my senior project, and as such, find myself in a unique position among the members of the WC community to speak of Professor Delfín’s merits. 

Whittier College markets itself as an institution that offers its students remarkable access to professors and advisors. The tools of anthropology ­— ethnography and participant observation, skills that Delfín artfully taught countless students, including me — make it evident that tight bonds between professors and students are part of our culture at Whittier. Professor Delfín embodies the persona that students seeking a liberal arts education envisaged when they chose to attend a school like Whittier, and I would argue that she does this to an extent that is pronounced and exceptional even when compared to the most renowned professors at this institution. It was for exactly this reason — the opportunity to know my mentors — that I chose to attend Whittier, and I am certainly not alone in having chosen Whittier for this exact reason. 

I will forever be grateful to Professor Delfín for the role that she has played in helping me to achieve my educational goals and because it has been her mentorship that has made Whittier College worth attending. Over the past two years as my advisor and senior project sponsor, Delfín has single handedly made my WSP Global Health Studies major possible. 

If I could stand before FPC and list the unenumerable ways in which Delfín has furthered my education, I would do so in a heartbeat, but as I cannot, I will share with you all an example that makes Professor Delfín’s value at Whittier abundantly apparent. Delfín spent countless hours helping me to conceive of, design, conduct, and write my senior project on the cultural context of medicinal herb use in the Peruvian Highlands. Her help here had already exceeded that which could be asked for from any advisor, but Professor Delfín went on to help me find thousands of dollars [in] funding that allowed me to travel to Peru for three weeks to conduct research in the field. Once in Peru, Delfín helped me find participants for my research. Further, she helped me tweak my interview questions and improve my Spanish. Without any obligation, Delfín did all of this for me; one student working on one project.

But what makes Professor Delfín so incredible is that she does this for every single student that walks into her classroom or office. We have all been blessed to have been taught by the professors at this institution. Our professors make Whittier College what it is, but Professor Delfín is helping to make Whittier College what it can be. I, for one, think it is critical that we, as a Whittier College community, work to make sure that Professor Delfín can keep doing just that. 

Sincerely,

Senior Jarred Rimby