The Good News:
The University Tenure Committee, the university President, and Provost have reevaluated the multiple tenure denials of this spring and have granted tenure to 7 of the 10 who appealed their denials. The three engineering professors, including two in my department, are now tenured! We had a celebration at one of their houses tonight. Whew.
Now that it's over, I can say something that I was not willing to say in public before. If they had not been granted tenure, I think it may have done irreparable harm to our department. We would loose our two most hardware-oriented researchers, great guys, and good teachers. Then, we would likely loose three more by retirements in the next few years. This would cripple our fledgling plans for a Ph.D. program in electrical engineering, and would likely make it difficult to hire new people. Why would new people come if they can't trust the tenure guidelines? They could invest seven years, get good evaluations, grow their research program, and get flushed at the end of it. And for those of you who don't know, once you have been denied tenure at a university, it is very, very unlikely that you will get a job at an equal or better institution. In essence, getting denied tenure is a career-limiting event. So it is possible, that if we had lost these guys, it would have been the beginning of the end for our department. But they got it!
The Bad News:
My trip to Honduras, planned for later this summer, is not the only one in which a group of engineering students from our school will travel to Honduras to do "compassioneering". A group of four other guys, three of which are core members of Engineers with a Mission, were planning to go to the southern coast of Honduras to design and install a rain catchment system for a rural village without adequate water supply. They were planning to travel with a team of education majors who were conducting a program in their school.
Well, today I got the message that the trip has been postponed until August (or perhaps cancelled), because the church with which we were partnering called and said not to come. Pastor Elvis (his real name, apparently) said that there is political unrest because of higher gas prices and food prices. They are not satisfied with the way the government is handling the situation.
At this point, that's all I know. Do they fear violence? I don't know. I have been searching the internet for stories about violence or unrest in Honduras and I have found none. Tomorrow I will call my own contacts to hear what they say.
The leader of their trip asked me to call the engineering students and tell them. Some had already heard the news, some had not. I felt really sorry for them. We have been planning and fundraising and brainstorming and dreaming about this trip for so long. I know they are disappointed.
I am concerned about my own plans for Honduras. Is there "unrest" in the northern parts where I plan to go? I know there is typically less violence and more stability there. Is this even real? If anyone is in Honduras, can you please comment?