Future of French professor’s position left uncertain with upcoming retirement


K-State French professor Claire Dehon has been teaching at K-State since 1972. She is set to retire this spring, but the long-term future of her position is still unknown.

Dehon’s role will be partially filled with a one-year temporary contract for a new professor next year, but beyond that, there are still many questions. The future of this position will be not be decided until a budget decision is made regarding funding for this role.

“After the year, we don’t know what the budget will be,” Dehon said.

She also mentioned that this position is one that might not attract many, due to its lack of longevity.

“It’s not easy to hire somebody who can accept to take a job for a year without knowing whether she or he will have a full-time tenure track,” Dehon said.

Dehon said although the position will be filled temporarily, it will only be with a single year contract, and bringing in a new professor will not stop her current coworkers from having to pick up some slack next year.

“That is something that can not be forever,” Dehon said

After this professor of over 45 years retires, there will certainly be big shoes to fill.

“I’ve been told that I had great impact on my students,” Dehon said.

Melinda Cro, associate professor of French, has been Dehon’s coworker since 2010. She said trying to replace someone as special as professor Dehon will not be easy, regardless of the state of her position.

“It’s hard to put into words how important she has been for this department,” Cro said.

The new professor will be teaching full time but have nothing guaranteed after the 2018-2019 school year.

Dehon said the adjustment will affect students currently working towards a masters degree, more so than undergraduate students.

One example of a student who has seen the impact of Dehon firsthand is Patrick Riggin. Riggin is a graduate teaching assistant who graduated from K-State in 2016 with undergraduate degrees in French and political science.

He is currently pursuing a masters degree in second language acquisition. Having classes with Dehon since 2014, Riggin said he can clearly see how this change could affect students like himself in the future.

“She adds a very intellectual element to the French department,” Riggin said. “Without her, we will definitely be losing someone who has contributed a lot.”

Dehon emphasized that the issue will not be as crucial next year specifically as much as it will be in the long term if the position is unable to be fully funded and filled in the future.

Dehon also said her position is not the only thing affected by these budget cuts.

“We’ve had to abandon a bunch of languages,” Dehon said. “And the three languages, Spanish, French and German, have been affected.”

“It is sort of the end of an era,” Cro said. “She is a trailblazer.”