Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: On Orfalea College

A student’s take

As a current business student at Cal Poly, I disagree with Dean Dave Christy’s decision to allow Paul Orfalea to teach an international business class that required no midterms, papers or grading. It’s unfair to students who have worked hard to achieve “A’s” in their international business classes while select students automatically received an “A” for showing up to class.

I took an international business management class with Jere Ramsey and it was an extremely rigorous course including a quarter-long simulation, weekly assignments, two midterms and a final. This class satisfied the same international business requirement as the course taught by Orfalea, yet I had to work hard to achieve an “A” instead of having it handed to me.

I’m not suggesting that Orfalea is not qualified to teach the course or that students can’t benefit from his experience in international business, but wouldn’t it benefit more students if the course was offered to everyone or at the very least more than 25 students?

As a business student that had no knowledge of the course until the article in The Tribune, I am embarrassed that Dean Christy and the Orfalea College of Business would be so oblivious and naïve to exclude deserving students from a great opportunity and hand out undeserved “A’s.”

Kristan Weihe

San Luis Obispo

Resistant faculty

Regarding “Faculty complain about Orfalea course,” March 9:Dean Dave Christy has worked tirelessly to become one of the best deans the Orfalea College of Business has ever had. He has pushed hard for higher academic standards in the college and has succeeded in improving the national ranking of the college by pushing faculty to become more engaged in scholarship.

It is sad to see a small group of faculty who resist change hold the higher academic pursuits of the rest of the college hostage. This is one among several different grievances by this small group of faculty that puts the focus on litigation and not the students. The overwhelming majority of the faculty in the college strongly support Christy.

I applaud Paul Orfalea for his philanthropy in teaching classes at USC, UCSB and Cal Poly at no charge to the institutions. His generosity is noble and welcome at a time when public money for higher education is tight. It is ironic that such a generous donation of time by a business leader ends up costing taxpayers many more times the cost of an ordinary course. Shame on faculty who file grievances to be compensated for classes they never teach.

Stephen F. Hamilton

Professor and chairman of Economics, Orfalea College of Business

Unusual course

Dr. J. Michael Geringer’s viewpoint shows that someone at Cal Poly got it right (“Policies and procedures were violated,” March 11). There is a process at all colleges and universities for presenting speakers from all disciplines. It appears they were not followed for this class.

One wonders how the academic requirements that protect all students were overlooked. The fact is that a course that has no text, no tests and gives an A to all students is rather unusual. Was this course listed in the catalog? How many credits did these select students receive for the course? Why were professors who never attended or presented paid?

Is Cal Poly still part of the state school system which is supported by taxpayers?

Shirley Montague-Devine

Los Osos

Misguided editorial

Your editorial today regarding Cal Poly’s “special” class for business majors was very misguided (“Poly merits praise in Orfalea case,” March 10).

Openness and diversity are hallmarks of state-supported higher education in California and elsewhere. Yet you laud Dean Dave Christy for allowing a private businessman to teach a class to a specially invited group of students.

How many of them were women or people of color? It may be that the class featured a diverse array of students. Unfortunately, this information apparently does not have to be divulged because the course was not part of the regular curriculum, the instructor taught for free and, oh yes, he gives lots of money to the university.

Under your reasoning, universities apparently should be able to utilize the services of many rich donors, allowing them to handpick students for classes and to turn away those who don’t earn A’s. How convenient, and coming just mere months after the United States Supreme Court said that businesses could buy, oops, contribute copious amounts of money to politicians with virtually no limits.

Kathleen A. Cairns

Professor of history and women and gender studies at Cal Poly

Praise for dean

The Cal Poly motto “learn by doing” must also mean learn from those who have done it and succeeded. I offer high praise to Dean Dave Christy for taking a little entrepreneurial license and bringing Paul Orfalea in to teach an international business course (“Faculty complain about Orfalea course,” March 9). How wonderful for those students to get a chance to learn how fortunes are made in the real world.

Mike Nunno

San Luis Obispo