Our View: How essential are credentials?

Editorial Board

Students noticed this semester when Richard Stanislaw, assistant professor of political science, did not return to the classroom. Consistently cited as a favorite Kent State professor, Stanislaw’s lack of credentials apparently outweighed his popularity among students when the decision came down to administrators.

In a letter from Andrew Barnes, chair of the political science department, notifying Stanislaw that his contract would not be renewed, Barnes cited Stanislaw’s “pattern of misrepresentation” regarding a Ph.D. as impetus for his dismissal.

“You were clearly hired with the expectation that you would make progress toward a doctorate,” Barnes wrote, pointing out that because Stanislaw was not enrolled in a Ph.D. program, he could not attempt a doctorate and had misled administrators in saying he would.

Barnes added that Stanislaw did not submit an official transcript to Kent State until “recently” despite first being asked for it in 2007. In fact, Barnes wrote “an official transcript showing completion of the doctoral degree from the awarding University” was required before he could be promoted to a full-time position.

Of course, Stanislaw disputes these allegations of “misrepresentation,” but the fact that he was able to teach into this year, despite Barnes’ claiming that he did not submit these credentials, raises one obvious question above all others: How did this happen?

If what Barnes said is true, how was Stanislaw not only able to begin full-time teaching, but to continue teaching, despite not submitting these documents? What made Stanislaw’s situation unique?

Also, if Stanislaw managed this, could other professors do the same? Have they? Who is checking these requirements, and how important are they if they can be ignored for so long?

While we’re not saying that every professor must have a Ph.D., we’re concerned that in a case where lack of a Ph.D. is cited as the main reason for a professor’s dismissal that more wasn’t done to monitor the situation before it escalated.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.