At the end of this school year, professor of counseling Michael Mangis will be leaving Wheaton faculty after being told that he could not continue teaching the same course load he taught this year.
Due to his health, Mangis was teaching a reduced number of classes the past semester. Before Christmas break, Mangis spoke with Provost Stanton Jones regarding his ability to continue teaching the next school year as a part-time faculty member. Jones agree to propose the idea to President Philip Ryken, who said he would investigate the request. On March 18, Mangis was informed by dean of natural and social sciences Dorothy Chapell that he could not resume teaching next year. Since then, Mangis has received support from faculty and students who are sad to see him leave.
Some have questioned the coincidence of the decision being made and the fact that Mangis was a vocal supporter of former associate professor of political science Larycia Hawkins, who resigned from her teaching position this year.
When Hawkins was suspended during the fall semester of 2015, Mangis was proud to publicly support her statement and actions. On Facebook, he stated that he would begin leading his spring psychology class in Muslim prayers. He also announced and followed through with the commitment of wearing his faculty regalia to class until she was reinstated. In January, Mangis chose to share a private email exchange between himself and Jones with TIME magazine.
In an email that became public, Jones said to Mangis, “I cannot tell you what a disaster this brief comment from you on Facebook is shaping up to be.” It was incidents such as these that Mangis and other students are remembering when evaluating how the administration made the decision and what they considered.
Because there has been a lack of communication between Mangis and the administration regarding his public actions, Mangis admits that he wonders if his behavior affected the college’s decision. “It can’t help but cross my mind, because the last few months have been so painful and difficult for all of us,” Mangis remarked after pointing out that “motives can’t be proven.”
The Record contact the provost’s office for an explanation of the decision and was referred to Chapell and director of human resources Karen Tucker. Both women were unable to answer questions on the issue due to “the confidential nature of personnel matters.” Chapell did share that the school is “not in a position to add to our staffing beyond the hiring of a new full-time faculty member” and “we are grateful for Dr. Mangis’ many years of service to the College.”
Mangis studied psychology as an undergraduate student here at Wheaton and graduated in 1984. He returned as a faculty member in 1989, teaching graduate level psychology courses like “Ethics and Personal Issues” and “Community and Mental Health.”
Mangis is unsure with what his career holds for him next. He confessed, “I’m not at a retirement age yet,” having planned on working at least another ten years. Mangis intended to continue working at Wheaton as a part-time professor teaching core psychology classes while mentoring the full-time professor that the school would hired to replace him. He believes that his performance was “adequate” and anyone at his department “would think the same.”
Even though he is leaving the faculty, he hopes to continue his involvement on the campus in some way. Mangis wanted to reassure students that, “Although there have been trends lately that are frightening that should be corrected, there is still a positive future for the college,” and he will still be around.