Retiring professors leave students with few options to complete their education – Iowa State Daily
Students in the pre-speech pathology course are forced to restructure their plans after the announcement of the retirement of Horabail Venkatagiri, professor of psychology and speech therapist.
With no plan to replace Venkatagiri (“Giri”), several complications have arisen for psychology and linguistics students on the Speech Language Pathology (SPL) track. Giri, who has worked at Iowa State for more than 20 years, announced his retirement at the end of the 2022-23 academic year.
Jacey Kilby, a second-year psychology student, was told by another student about Giri’s retirement and negligence in replacing his position. Kilby said to graduate here at Iowa State, she needs to consider taking her SPL credits at another university, online or at transfer schools.
“There’s a reason I chose Iowa State,” Kilby said.
She explained her frustration over the uprooting of her academic plans and the need to reevaluate her aspirations for the next year.
“Taking classes elsewhere or online would be expensive, and I don’t want to transfer,” Kilby said. “So I looked at domestic student exchanges, which are similar to study abroad, except they’re domestic and would only be for one semester.”
Kilby understands that Iowa State is an engineering and business-focused school, but she feels the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) is overlooked.
“Unless you’re junior or senior this year, you’re kind of screwed because the first and second year students haven’t taken the necessary courses yet because we had to take the prerequisites first,” said said Kilby.
Arielle Naeve, senior in linguistics and on the pre-SPL track and president of the Communication Disorders Club, also spoke about Giri’s retirement and its effects.
“The Communication Disorders Club promotes the path of speech therapy for students interested in careers,” Naeve said.
Naeve explained that the club helps create quadrennial plans for students and provides volunteer opportunities and SPL-related activities that students can get involved in.
“We all loved him as a teacher, and we will be sad that he is leaving as he was the club’s adviser for years,” Naeve said. “But, we now have a new advisor, Dr. Carrie Richie, and she is doing everything in her power to help this program keep running.”
Naeve explained that speech therapy is a growing field with many professions. She expressed surprise at the cuts to the psychology and linguistics departments.
“Speech is one of the most important things for being able to relate to others,” Naeve said. “I think it’s really important to be able to communicate and to give everyone that opportunity and give people a chance to have their voices heard.”
Naeve emphasized that she thinks speech therapy is a profession that should be encouraged in the state of Iowa and thinks many students aspire to take the SPL path. She hopes the program can continue to operate.
Susan Cross, Chair of the Department of Psychology, spoke about Giri’s retirement and why her position will not be replaced.
Cross explained that the communication disorders department was a larger program years ago. The program stopped and three faculty members entered the psychology department. The university reached an agreement in 1998 that faculty members could continue teaching psychology as long as they remained in the state of Iowa.
“Two of these faculty members have retired and Dr Giri has remained here and been permitted to continue teaching these courses for the past 24 years, but it has always been understood that once he takes retirement or leave, it wouldn’t continue,” Cross said.
While she acknowledges that the affected audience is small, Cross said she sympathizes with students who have to re-evaluate their plans to complete their studies. She also mentioned his respect for Giri and his independence in running the program on his own, saying he deserved his retirement.
“In the spirit of the national science foundation, psychology is considered a STEM field,” Cross said. “That said, we don’t get the attention or resources that other STEM fields get despite having extremely strong faculty, high productivity, and excellent teaching.”
She thinks the department could use more resources, because although the number of students in the department has increased, the number of professors has decreased.
“We never offered all the courses needed for the P-SLPA,” Giri said in an email response. “Students have always taken a few online courses from other universities. After I retire, they will have to take a few more online courses at other universities. They may also be able to transfer some credits from these courses to apply for their degree at ISU.
Cross recommends students affected by Giri’s retirement check out online resources provided by the university and consider taking online courses to build the foundation they need to pursue the SPL vocational track.