by Elzabeth Olsen
Originally published: March 18, 2016
Julianne Taaffe and Kathryn Moon had been teaching English language skills to foreign students for decades at Ohio State University when they and their co-workers were jolted by a particularly blunt email.
The email, from their boss to a colleague at another university, said Ms. Taaffe and her fellow teachers were “an extraordinarily change-averse population of people almost all of whom are over 50, contemplating retirement (or not), and it’s like herding hippos.”
“It was completely unexpected,” said Ms. Taaffe, 60, who worked for nearly three decades helping undergraduate and graduate students from other countries master speaking, reading and writing in English. Like many prominent universities, Ohio State has a large contingent of international students; nearly 10 percent of the almost 60,000 students on its sprawling Columbus campus are foreigners.
The teachers, who did not have tenure, were surprised to read the 2010 email, which was shared with them by the recipient at the other university. But it confirmed an increasingly sour atmosphere at Ohio State. Veteran teachers, Ms. Taaffe said, began to see younger, less experienced people promoted instead of them.