The 2018-2019 school year will be the last at Castleton University for Political Science professor Melisse Pinto. No longer will students hear the sweet, soft voice out of Leavenworth 203 that can lead some of the most impactful lectures.
Colleagues and students say Pinto is largely responsible for the current state of the Political Science program, which has flourished from a major-by-contract to a structured major that currently enrolls over 15 students.
Pinto has a wide variety of knowledge that also affects other majors. Her contributions of political philosophy to both the Global Studies and Philosophy majors, as well as her contribution of Comparative Politics as a required course of the Global Studies major, will be sorely missed by students and faculty.
In her nineteenth year at the “Small School with a Big Heart,” Castleton seems to have a special, lasting bond on Pinto.
“Many things drew me to Castleton,” Pinto said, “including a commitment to the liberal arts, inter-disciplinary and global perspective of the department, small class size, opportunity to teach a variety of courses, and the rural environment. But most of all, what drew me was the quality of the people in the Castleton community – academic and personal integrity, kindness, generosity, and an overall commitment to Castleton itself.”
Along with students, colleagues commented about the value Pinto has brought to the university.
“She carries this wide range of courses,” said Rich Clark, her fellow professor of Political Science. “She’s done it, done well, and has really provided a foundation that when I got here we could start a major.”
Pinto said she’s not sure what the future holds for her position once she leaves.
“I do not know whether I will be replaced – I hope so. This cannot be done by one person alone. Part-time faculty can fill in, in the short run, but I believe that the major has great potential to grow,” she said.
Student enrollment in the major has continued to grow over the last few years, likely due to the continued efforts of Professors Pinto and Clark.
“We will definitely miss her,” said political science major Shelby Jewett. “The Political Science Program won’t be the same without her.”
At Castleton, several smaller majors fall into similar circumstances as Political Science due to the small faculty size, as well as the retirements and budget cuts from last year that seem to have occurred simultaneously.
Students of small majors can often be concerned about their major, but students like Jewett said they hope to see those positions replaced in order to sustain all the current majors and perhaps even, in the near future, expand the possibility of majors for students.
Professor Pinto seems to agree.
“Most of all, I want Castleton to maintain its integrity, its community spirit, its commitment to a liberal education. I believe that it has a great potential to increase its service to Vermont by investigating and innovating new ways to combine economic viability with a truly humane and people-centered structure and quality of life,” she said.