So Professor Mrozowski goes

Dan Mrozowski, the affable English lecturer, is not replaceable, though he is leaving the University.

Lucy Saliger

On May 6 in American Literature II, our professor, Dan Mrozowski, told us it was the last time heâÄôd be teaching a course at the University of Minnesota. This is one of the large lecture classes, with more than 120 students, and sounds of dismay swept the room with the news. In keeping with his teaching ethic, however, he did not leave us with a low note. He finished that last lecture on Kurt VonnegutâÄôs, âÄúSlaughterhouse FiveâÄù emphasizing VonnegutâÄôs point that literature âÄî and art âÄî are ways to resist the forces that keep on destroying, the forces Vonnegut represents in the novel with the repeated phrase of resignation: âÄúSo it goes.âÄù And then he told us all a personal story that we asked him to tell. Students clapped and laughed. He left us as he always has, inspired and informed. Dan Mrozowski is one of the most beloved professors in the English Department. In the short time heâÄôs been at the University, heâÄôs become a legend for his passionate, thoroughly informative and amazing lectures. HeâÄôs also a hero to many of us because heâÄôs 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. HeâÄôs given me more time than any other professor IâÄôve ever known at this University or at 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 Opportunities Program. I mention these things because I know he has made the same kind of suggestions for many students, manifesting a deep concern which overcomes the alienation too many students feel in large universities. Those of us who know what weâÄôre losing do not know what we will do without him. And, of course, there are all the students who will never know what they missed âÄî students who perhaps will never submit a UROP proposal or do a Directed Studies with a professor because they either cannot find anyone who will work with them or simply because it does not 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 the University decides 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 Mrozowski. What we do know 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. Those are concerns I have heard repeatedly from other lecturers I know. 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 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 doubt that the administration is continuing the same policies for students in other departments âÄî letting go of the professors those we need most. They seem to think our professors are all replaceable. And so it goes… Lucy Saliger, University undergraduate student