The true weight of the student voice

By Keven Lugo ’16

I am confused. Something doesn’t add up and I hope that by writing to the masses, I’ll receive an answer. Over the last two years, several incredible teachers have not stayed at Lafayette. While I have been able to understand most cases, there is one case that simply does not make sense.

At the beginning of faculty course evaluations, professors read a script expressing the seriousness of filling out these forms, information from which “will be considered when making hiring decisions.”

Every semester, I took the evaluations seriously. As I say in my tours, Lafayette is an academic institution that values teaching above all else. It hires inspiring educators, and because of them I’ve grown to love Lafayette.

Unfortunately, one of these incredible professors was not invited to stay. Saying he is an incredible professor is an understatement. Making even the most mundane of topics interesting, the sole reason I enrolled in an international political economy class was because he was teaching it.

But you do not need to take my word for this; he received outstanding reviews in all of his course evaluations which can be found online ( Below you can see his average course rating for his classes over the last four years (1-5 scale with 5 being the most positive rating):

  • “I learned a great deal in this course”= 4.77
  • “The instructor’s effectiveness in teaching the subject matter was”= 4.74
  • “Would you encourage other students to take this course?”= 4.73

In 2015, he won student government’s Superior Teaching Award. “But being a professor is about more than just teaching,” some may say. While at Lafayette, he published a book and is highly involved on campus. In my four years here, he has been one of the most active members of the Posse community. In short, he is a professor that Lafayette should work tirelessly to keep.

By now, many of you probably know that I am writing about Professor of International Affairs Joel Shelton. Needless to say, he had an unmeasurable impact on me and many others. He joined Lafayette with the class of 2016, but, unfortunately, despite his extremely strong performance—in my experience, surpassing the rest of the IA department—he was not invited to stay. This is what I can’t wrap my head around.

Lafayette College, why aren’t you fighting to keep a beloved professor, brilliant researcher and powerful mentor? You’ve done a huge disservice to the students by letting Shelton go. Thankfully, another university recognizes his talent. When the next Shelton comes along, don’t make the same mistake.