Students question English prof. dismissal

A Northern Kentucky University student sent a letter Nov. 16 to the chair of the English department, the dean of students and the assistant dean of arts and sciences to express her discomfort about the dismissal of her English professor.

In her letter, freshman English major Jennifer Smith wrote how Angela Hesson is a “rare gem” amongst educators. “She challenged her students yet made them feel like they could approach her. I am truly sad that we have lost and exceptional teacher,” Smith wrote.

Smith decided to write the letter and investigate Hesson’s situation when Hesson didn’t come back to classes after she announced she would be gone for an unknown number of days when her mother passed away.

“No one told us what was going on,” Smith said. ”I went to the English department office and asked them to tell her to reach me. That is when I found out she was fired.”

Dr. John Cullick, chair of the English department, informed Smith’s English 101 class of Hesson’s dismissal and four other students approached him in late October.

Hesson, who majored in English at the university and has a master’s degree from University of Cincinnati, was a full-time professor at NKU for more than 11 years and worked until Oct. 24.

She had four classes in the fall 2011 semester.

According to, Hesson has an average of 4.8 out of 5 in quality and 4.9 out of 5 in helpfulness.
“Since Hesson left, class isn’t the same,” Smith said. “She is a professor even outside of class.”
Cullick said he is not currently allowed to talk about the subject with a third party.
Smith has also talked about the situation with Steve Meier, associate dean of students, who said he was unaware of the situation.
“If we pay tuition, we should be allowed to be more involved and informed about firing and hiring professors,” Smith said.
Hesson said she is not allowed to talk about her situation, but did say, “I love NKU. It was a place where I thought I could make my best job as a teacher.”
“It’s good for students to express their opinions to university administrators,” Cullick said. “Students need to let us know about their experiences with classes and professors. Of course, we always hope those experiences will be positive, but it’s important for us to hear students’ critical responses as well.”
Hesson also said of her dismissal, “It’s a beginning, not an ending.”