Professor Mrozowski leaves the University

The University English Department and its students will miss one of its most engaging and inspiring teachers.

by Lucy Saliger

In American Literature 2 today, Professor Dan Mrozowski told us that this was the last time he’d be teaching a class at the University of Minnesota. This is one of the large lecture classes, with over 120 students. Sounds of dismay swept through the room. In keeping with his teaching ethic, however, he didn’t leave us on a low note. He finished that last lecture on Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse Five, emphasizing Vonnegut’s point that literature and other art are ways to resist the forces that keep on destroying, the forces Vonnegut epitomizes with the repeated phrase of resignation, âÄúSo it goes.âÄù And then he told us all a personal story that we’d been after him most of the semester to tell. Students clapped and laughed. He left us as he always has âÄì inspired and informed. Dan Mrozowski is one of the most beloved professors in the English Department. In the short time he’s been at the University of Minnesota, he’s become a legend among students for his passionate, thoroughly informative, amazing lectures. He’s also a hero to many of us, because he’s given us enormous amounts of his time and support. Somehow, he takes a personal interest in us, even though he teaches two large lecture classes and another standard size class. I got to know him last semester when he agreed to work with me on a Directed Studies course. He’s given me more time than any other professor I’ve ever known, at the University or in the California community colleges I once attended. He has suggested I do things I would have never thought of doing, like submitting proposals for the English Undergraduate Conference or for Undergraduate Research (UROP). I mention these things because know he has made the same kind of suggestions for many students, manifesting a deep concern which overcomes the alienation all too many students feel in these large universities. Those of us who know what we’re losing don’t know what we will do without him. And then there are all the students who will never know what they missed, students who perhaps will never submit a UROP proposal or do a Directed Study with a professor because they either can’t find anyone who will work with them or it doesn’t occur to them to try. We know he accepted another job teaching in another state, but of course, as students, we are infantilized by the University and kept out of any say-so or even transparency in the hiring processes relating to our professors. It is, it seems, none of our business. We are merely here to pay tuition and accept whatever education they decide to dole out to us. They have never asked us which professors they should make permanent. No doubt, if they cared to, they would find that the vast majority of students in the English Department, as well as some other departments, would give a resounding, âÄúYes!âÄù to hiring Professor Mrozowski. What we do know, because it is public knowledge, is that he has been a lecturer here, meaning he has no guaranteed job from year to year, and is paid far less than tenured professors. No doubt, the job insecurity played some role in his choice to keep seeking other employment in case they chose not to retain him. At least those are the concerns I have heard repeatedly from other lecturers I know. I suppose that the words that I put down in writing now will do nothing to stop what has been set in motion. At this point, it is probably too late, but if the administrators were truly committed to democratic education and the well-being of their students, they would not have let this happen. And they would do everything in their power to stop it now. I have no doubts that the administration is continuing the same policies which do the same things to students in other departments âÄì letting go of the professors those students need most. They seem to think our professors are all replaceable. So it goes… Lucy Saliger University undergraduate student