Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Fire Steve Kusnir

Steve Kusnir's Linked CV
To The Math Department Chairman
cc: Dean of Students

Executive Summary

I have deliberated over this decisions for months and consulted with my fellow students.  With a heavy heart, necessity and good order compel me to complain about Steve Kusnir, Mathematic Department, Pima Community College of Tucson, Arizona. His arrogance, inaccessibility, obnoxious classroom behavior and unfair grading practices have exceeded norms of academic freedom.  His rude conduct has created a hostile work environment. I ask the Chairman to:

  1.  audit Kusnir's grades
  2. review past and present student evaluations
  3. re-evaluate all tests 
  4. conduct interviews with students currently enrolled and those that have dropped.  
I also ask that whatever your findings that you monitor Professor Kusnir in the future. Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that Professor Kusnir has hurt the community and damaged the reputation of the school.  And more disturbing is that this problem has gone on unattended for quite some time.


Steve Kusnir's Linkedin
Profile Picture
True, some of the evidence offered is anecdotal given from my own personal experience.  This intrinsically subjective evidence hardly qualifies as overwhelming evidence.  But the Department does retain student evaluations where Professor Kusnir has been employed for the past 16 years.  Unlike the student evaluations which are not made public, the evaluations from are public.  The report generated from the website, validate my experience and the experiences of my peers. They reflect your privately held data.  Proceeding with that understanding, a summary, an evaluation and analysis of data provided by and my observations compose the methodology of this report.

Steve Kusnir's Facebook lists 251 math instructors in your department spread out over six campuses over an area the size Rhode Island.  Yet Professor Kusnir finds himself at position 167, just above the bottom third.  5.58% of the total or 14 of the bottom third have not been evaluated.  With that in mind, Professor Kusnir has bottom 29.54% percentile.    18.33% of the total or 46 of the bottom third have less than 10 ratings.  With that in mind, Professor Kusnir has bottom 12.54% percentile.

In the bottom third percentile, with 45 ratings dating back 2004 and with a post as recent as 2 days ago, Professor Kusnir is the second most rated professor. Students at Pima do not think every much of Steve Kusnir.

In mathematics, we say  'the numbers do not lie.'   The numbers from 2007 to the Present do not favor Steve Kusnir.

Source: Re: Steve Kusnir Pima College 2007 to Present
Since 2007, 39 of Steve Kusnir's former students have rated him on  4 have rated him as average quality, 13 good quality and 22 bad quality.
Source: Re: Steve Kusnir Pima College 2007 to Present

Source: Re: Steve Kusnir Pima College 2007 to Present
2007 to Present
The numbers do not lie.  The numbers say Steve Kusnir is a bad teacher.

Mathematics is a difficult subject matter and so it follows that students must rate those professors harsher than those who teach easier subject matter.  That maybe true and that may explain Steve Kusnir's poor performance by  If however a considerable number of teachers in the upper percentile also teach hard subject matter, then Kusnir's poor performance is inexcusable.  There is a considerable number of teachers in the upper percentile also teach hard subject matter.  Here is a list of such fabulous instructors who teach difficult subject matter.

Chart of Highly Rated Instructors with difficult subject matter

Ana Jimenez
The Highest Rated Teacher
at the Pima College
Math Department
The mostly highly rated and ranked highly in overall quality in the Math Department is Ana Jimenez who teaches the same subject matter as Steve Kusnir.  I will only cite those ratings earned by Professor Jimenez from students taking classes over the 200 level (Calculus or Higher).  They read:

(1) Ana is the best teacher, ever! She is ultra organized, she cares, she takes job seriously, but not herself, she's approachable, and she forces students to apply the class' lessons in class. I am ultra prepared for having taken her class!  (7/8/04 MAT220)

(2) great! (2/6/09 MAT220)

(3) the best teacher in the world,no kidding. Takes her time to explain, very patient, even if you don't like math she able to changes your attitude towards math because she makes it interesting, and not intimidating. RUN, to her class  (11/21/10 math220)

Pima is famous for having great math, science, engineering and technology teacher.  Good teachers exist at Pima.  We also know that Steve Kusnir not one of them.  But why isn't he a good teacher?  What are the students saying about him?

Hostile Work Environment: Arrogance

Everyone agrees that Professor Kusnir is an intelligent man.  9 out of 45 reviews, 20% of the reviewers attest to Professor Kusnir’s strong math ability.  7/9/07 CALC1 wrote: “He's one of the smartest guys I have ever known.”   12/11/11 Mat151: “Explains the material fairly well.”  6/28/11 Mat220: “He is a brilliant man, teaches very clearly and thoroughly. “ 5/9/11 MAT092: “He knows math VERY well.”   1/13/11 MAT187: “He knows his stuff.” 10/27/09 mat151: “He knows all the material.”   4/14/09 MAT122: “He is a decent teacher in that he is both entertaining and knowledgeable.” 7/6/08 Mat212: “Teacher provides clear examples.“  7/9/07 CALC1: “He's one of the smartest guys I have ever known."  That has been my experience as well.  Professor Kusnir is brilliant.

And no one is arguing that Professor does not have the right to conduct his classroom to meet his teaching objectives.  1940 Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure defines Academic Freedom as empowering teachers with the  "freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject."  Thus we should excuse his unorthodox appearance:  8/30/05 Mat 151: "Looks like a bum (I kid you not)" and 7/9/07 CALC1: "Does kinda look like a bum." No one faults him for his sense of humor either.  5/9/04 Mat 231 states: "very livly guy. Never a dry moment." Professor Kusnir is definitely a creative individual.  "You definitely need to have a sense of humor to take one of his classes."   (8/8/12 MAT 092)  7/28/08 MAT182 opines: "Always cracking jokes, pretty funny ones too. Relaxed teaching style."  7/28/08 MAT182 writes "lol."

Yet others have noted his teaching style and found it wanting.  12/15/11 MAT182 opines: "Has a unique way of teaching." 7/6/08  Mat212 states flatly: "Teacher provides  . . .  is himself something to be desired."  11/12/10 MAT092 explains:  "He strays from the book used quite a bit." 2/5/11  MAT122 says: "In 3 weeks he will try to reteach you math the way HE THINKS it should have been taught to you in the 1st place."   12/11/11 Mat151 claims: "he doesnt use the book, so when studying for tests and doing homework none of it makes sense because he uses his own methods and shortcuts and vocabulary. He doesnt curve the class. I learned the material better own my own then going to class."   9/20/11 Math182  claims: "This is a teacher who has not embraced 21st century technologies in the classroom. No smartboards or even use of email to communicate w/ students."  One rater, and one that I agree with writes plainly that Kusnir has teacher's pets.  1/10/11 precalc who relate that "He also favors 'certain' students."  But it is not enough to be unpopular.  One can be unpopular and still be an effective teacher.  But you cannot be effective and abusive at the same time.

The  1940 Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure does not give him a license to created a hostile work environment.  Professor Kusnir is just a jerk and everyone knows that.  12 out of 45 reviews, 1 out of every 4, 25 of his reviews characterize arrogance as his teaching style.  Though he is a competent Mathematician, he is a horrible teacher.    All course have an attrition rate.  The more difficult the coursework the higher the attrition rate.  In my computer science courses, our attrition is between 10 to 20%.

When I first arrived, I felt intimidated but not by Professor Kusnir, not at first.   Kids from all over Tucson, from Arizona and all parts of the world sat in his class with a love of numbers.  Teachers somewhere somehow imbued in all these kids a confidence and dexterity for numbers.  You cannot take Math 220 without demonstrated mastery of lower level math in previous coursework or by taking a test.  It had been more than 20 years since I took calculus and being around those kids was uncomfortable.   But gradually Professor Kusnir killed that love of numbers with his asinine manner and his arbitrary grading system.

His attrition rate is between 50% to 75%.  His abrupt, brash manner manifests itself in the pride in withering the class size down.  He actually bragged about that on the first day of class and throughout the course.

5 out of 45 or over 10% of the ratings use the words "condescending."  It is the most prevalent word used to describe Professor Kusnir.

This second chart lists comments as to Professor Kusnir's competence as a teacher - imparting information and complexity to his students.  22 out of 45 ratings disparaged his ability to do his job.

Descriptions of his incompetence include a tendency to go off on tangents, worst teacher, bad teacher , not a good teacher, callousness,  'I had to teach the material to myself,' disorganized, useless and makes the material harder than it needs to be.

Chart detailing rater exhortations to avoid this instructor in the strongest language.  

Hostile Work Environment: Inaccessibility

Luba, one of the students who wishes to not to be identified at the risk of academic retaliation by Professor Kusnir's, stated in a private message via facebook that Professor Kusnir "comes off so harsh if you have a question about anything."

He does not teach students how to arrive at these conclusions by independently but he expects them to sit through a long monologue where interruption, questions, curiosity or real world applications are irrelevant and unwelcome.   Just under 9% of all his ratings describe Professor Kusnir as unapproachable.  Three reviews use the word 'unapproachable.'

The data confirms my personal experience.  His office hours are a joke.  I walked into a dimly lit den with music in the background where he sipped tea and slurped down his Chinese food.    The environment was more conducive to chilling out than doing some work. When I went to the UA, office hours were about one-on-one discussions about how to do or approaches to problems and coursework.  He actually told me to study less.  

In late September, myself and Brian Lalla, also a veteran, also older and also a minority student chatted with Professor Kusnir after class.  All the other students had left.  Outside, he was smoking a cigarette technically during his office hours period.  We were talking about machines and using computers and tools.   Professor Kusnir held the view that machine and computers were bogus and that taking classes to improve your employability were a waste of time.  When I mentioned my life experience,  he interrupted me and talked over me.   Brian clammed up and I let him finish even thought I was right.  Obviously, Professor Kusnir did not care what I thought (and de facto) what Brian thought.  Even though Brian agreed with me, he wanted to save his grade. But Brian ended up dropping the class a few weeks later.  The meeting ended with civility because I respect authority but I knew that Professor Kusnir loathed me and loathed me over very trivial reasoning.

By the way, Brian Lalla agrees with me.  We both took this class before and passed it. It s not that hard and not as hard as he is making this out to be.

Hostile Work Environment: Unfair Grading Practices 

“The way he grades is really intense,” writes Luba.

During Professor Kusnir's class he had the television set turned on to baseball during the baseball play-offs.  He also disparaged my political beliefs publicly during class.  Though both activities are not unique and are not deplorable in and of themselves.  They certainly fall within Professor Kusnir's free exercise of his academic freedom. But these eccentric prerogatives coupled with his petty authoritarianism disparage the academic integrity of the institution.

4 of these ratings use the word, 'hard' and 2 of the raters use the word 'unfair.'  Luba, wrote me via facebook regarding test number 3, "I studied everything I possibly could home works, notes, textbook and I knew how to do all of it I just didn't have time."

Facebook Picture
One of my fellow students, Cindy, who like me is older, told me that she thought Professor Kusnir was in physical pain.  This unconfirmed physical pain of Professor Kusnir's excused his bad behavior.  I told Cindy that even if we could confirm Professor Kusnir's pain it is irrelevant because we paid for him to do a job, the people of the State of Arizona employ him to do a job and if he cannot do that, it is his responsibility to ensure that he gets help.  I also related to her a story in my work history of more than 20 years.
I worked in as a car salesman for the first jobs I got out of college.  I hated that job.  I would later be fired from that job.  But something my sales manager said to me has served me well in life.  He said, "Don't take your problems out on those around you."

Whether he is sore or going through a slump, he is just inflicting on us the consequences of his life decisions.  There's something else going on that he hides under a thin veneer of bravado and lightly shaded arrogance.  Quite frankly I don’t care what his motivations are, I want his behavior to stop. Look at the empty seats, Acta non verba, look at the grades and the empty seats.

Is Kusnir dream killing?

I asked Luba over facebook chat, if Professor Kusnir was “the best teacher you have ever had?”

“No, he is not,“  she replied, “I had a really good high school math teacher.”

Teachers and parents had imbued in these students a record of achievement and Professor Kusnir has blunted their progress through nefarious means and inured them to mediocrity.  And they will not understand the effects of that villainy until years later.
Luba writes, “he called me stupid one time He said your question isn't stupid just you are! “

The youth and our old people are sacred persons.  A teacher occupies a sacred position in the community because he ministers to the youth. A teacher is a leader. Leaders take care of those underneath him. He is their servant.  I honestly DO NOT BELIEVE that Steve Kusnir cares one wit about whether we pass or fail.

There are many approaches to mathematics.  Mathematics is problem solving tool.  He uses it as a haze.  He is performing triage on who he thinks should go on to the next level.  Everyone has to pay their dues but the way Professor Kusnir grades, the way he acts in class, is disgraceful.  He asks questions and does anyone answer? NO, because if you don't read his mind, he makes fun of you. 

He wonders why people second guess themselves or don't volunteer solutions.  He humiliates his students every day about 3 or 4 times.   Seriously, that is NOT RIGHT.  Public humiliation, where I come from, where I grew up and where I served, is a pretext for a violent confrontation.

What is Professor Kusnir really teaching?  That is it okay for a man in a position of public trust to abuse those in his care for his own amusement?  He has pets.  He is teaching those pets to be amused at the public humiliation of others.

For the young students, this is their first and only professional experience at leadership and management. 

Whatever happens to Professor Kusnir, those in his class will certainly graduate and some of them will get graduate with an engineering degree.  Of that group, some will get a job as an engineer working on a defense contract. These jobs are leadership positions requiring those men and women to manage people who are older, make less money that you do, and sometimes know more.   The engineer has that position because they have the credential.

That engineer is on the test bed three years from now managing 40 people, each salaried at $ 150 to $ 500 a day.  That engineer is responsible for equipment easily talking thousands of dollars a day.  That engineer has a tough schedule of 10 hours sometimes 14 hour days, deadlines, must stay on budget and keep away from off budget.  Everything has to be done in a safe manner.  All to ask a simple question:  “Does the system work?”

These are decisions you may to make in 3 years because math students can apply the quotient rule while others can't. That's the way it is.  Does that engineer treat those he manages the way your Luba’s favorite teacher treated her or does that engineer follow the Koozy way?  Which way is the winning way? Which way is easier?  Funner?  Which way do you often see?


Gentlemen, the presence of evil demands action for or against.  You cannot be neutral.  I have presented overwhelming evidence of the wrongs Professor Kusnir is committing against the public trust.  It's up to you now what is next.  The eyes of the community are on you.


Anonymous said...

If you put half as much work into that class as you did this garbage maybe you'd have a better grade...

Anonymous said...

^ Agreed.

Anonymous said...

13/39 is 33.3...% which is the positive review percentage. 10/35 is about 28.6% which is the approximate percentage of the original class size that still show up to class the week before the final. So about 5% MORE of people give him positive reviews than actually see his class all the way through. Coincidence? Probably not. Regardless, saying that he needs to be fired because of information and reviews from "ratemyprofessor" is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

You're obviously a major ass-wipe....

Anonymous said...

hahaha to the person who called you an ass-wipe