Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

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Archives

    Ceramics loses only full-time instructor, no replacement in the works

    by Alice Robinson

    Ceramics Instructor Larry Henderson, near a kiln he recently repaired. Henderson said that around 150 students took his ceramics classes during the 2018 spring semester. (Photo by Nicole Lovett)

    Students are feeling like they, and the ceramics program, got burned.

    A Laney faculty group decided not to replace instructor Larry Henderson, who is retiring, with a full-time staffer. Instead, three part-time instructors will share classes. Chuen-Rong Chan, dean of liberal arts, said the earliest a full-time hire could take over Henderson’s role is 2019.

    Henderson said the long drive from Guernville has worn him down. It’s time to hang up his apron. Despite the changes, he doesn’t think the program will suffer. “We’ll get through this,” Henderson said, surrounded by half-finished pottery and chatty students. “It will continue,” he said of the ceramics department.

    Henderson has spearheaded the ceramics classes for almost 30 years. Chan said he requested a full-time teacher to replace Henderson. A group called the “Faculty Prioritization Committee” turned him down.

    The committee is made up of a collection of Laney faculty members who help assess where to allocate positions based on the needs and productivity of the four educational departments.

    Chan said that he wishes Henderson was not ending his service. “I asked him to stay one more semester. He’s really good,” Chan said.

    Larry Henderson holds a ceramic pot. (Photo by Nicole Lovett)

    The Laney ceramics environment is special, students say. There’s a kinship that emerges among ceramics learners. Some even return to the department to mentor new students.

    Former ceramics student Pete Najarian first came to a Laney ceramics class in the early eighties. He said he is worried about the equipment’s care after Henderson leaves. “Who’s going to organize the kilns?”

    Other students are also worried. But Chan said students shouldn’t be worried. Rather than being in jeopardy, he said, the ceramics program is strong and will innovate with upcoming changes.

    “It’s not diminished. I’m still offering the same number of classes,” he said.

    Chan said that with the addition of the part-time teachers, “I have three brains to tap from.” The dean excitedly tossed out ideas for the program’s future, such as holding a “community class” geared at fun for local residents.

    Administrators are always on a tight budget, said Chan. “Laney is always underfunded. We have to make the best use of the resources we have,” he said. He’s open to outside funding — such as endowments — that would pay for needs in the ceramics program.

    Chan is not giving up, and said he plans to visit the committee again. “I’m going to go every year until I get [a full-time replacement],” he said.

    Student Giorgio Bianchi said Henderson puts a lot of energy into the program; Bianchi worries new part-time teachers could be less devoted. “Larry does so much for the program that is unrecognized or unofficial. He has a vision of the whole studio,” he said.

    Najarian echoed praise for Henderson, calling him “top, top, top notch.” “Everybody comes because of him,” Najarian said.


    Alice Robinson is a staff writer at the Laney Tower.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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