Last week, Visiting Assistant Professor of History Lana Povitz was unsure of her future at Middlebury. By Friday afternoon, she signed a contract for a tenure-track position in the History Department, starting this July. Povitz, who is currently completing her third consecutive visiting contract at the college, received a tenure-track offer from the University of Montreal in late February; students rallied to get the college to match Povitz’s offer before she had to provide an answer to Montreal.
Povitz had hoped that the college would offer her a position through partner hire, a process by which professors or candidates may seek hiring for their spouses and partners. Povitz’s partner Dima Ayoub, assistant professor of Arabic and C.V. Starr Junior Faculty Fellow in International Studies, put in a request to the administration for partner hire after she notified the History Department and Dean of Faculty Sujata Moorti of her other offer on Monday, February 21.
Moorti did not respond to requests for comment by time of press.
After hearing of Povitz’s situation two weeks ago, current and former students organized in her support and asked past students of Povitz’s to submit testimonials about their experience in her classes. On March 1, the organizers launched a website sharing the more than 50 letters submitted by students, alongside more formal letters. On Friday, March 5, a group of more than a dozen students, led by Kristen Morgenstern ’24, showed up at Old Chapel to hand deliver the printed-out letters to administrators in their offices.
“I am extremely happy with the decision made to give Professor Povitz a tenure track position in the history department. The department and college at large will be a stronger and better learning community because of this decision,” Morgenstern said.
Morgenstern explained that the campaign was organized with the guidance of alumni and students, and encouraged student organizers to pursue their causes.
“It shouldn't take students protesting outside of Old Chapel, disrupting trustee meetings, 51 letters from students and two pieces in The Campus for the administration to listen. But the truth is that oftentimes it does,” she said.
Povitz signed a contract on Friday and expressed her excitement about the outcome. “I couldn’t be happier. The college really came through. This has renewed Dima and my commitment to being a force for good at this place,” Povitz said.
Jacob Tropp, associate professor and chair of the History Department, affirmed his enthusiasm for the outcome. “The History Department is delighted that the college has finally offered Prof. Povitz a tenure-track position,” he said.
Riley Board '22 is the Editor in Chief of The Campus. She previously served as a Managing Editor, News Editor, Arts & Academics Editor and writer.
She is majoring in Linguistics as an Independent Scholar and is an English minor on the Creative Writing Track.
Board has worked as a writer at Smithsonian Folklife Magazine and as a reporter for The Burlington Free Press. Currently, she is a 2021-2022 Kellogg Fellow working on her linguistics thesis. In her free time, you can find her roller skating in E-Lot or watching the same sitcoms over and over again.