Dr. Pavel Naumov, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at McDaniel, went on an unexpected leave of absence at the beginning of the semester. The mystery behind his departure has been difficult to determine.
No one at the College seems to be clear as to why he left or when he will return. In an interview, a handful of students stated that when they asked for information about Naumov’s whereabouts, “The Math and Computer Science department along with the deans [were] either unwilling or unable to let us know what happened to him. We’ve asked.”
Dr. Spencer Hamblen, an associate professor and the Chair of the Math and Computer Science Department, stated that there is no information in regards of Naumov’s leave of absence. Lisa Breslin, Associate Dean of Student Academic Life, gave a similar answer, and redirected the inquiry to Cheryl Knauer, Director of Media Relations at McDaniel.
Knauer confirmed that Naumov has taken a leave of absence, but did not disclose further information about the reason behind it.
Many people wonder where Naumov could be, but nobody seems to be wondering how the seniors of the Computer Science Department are dealing with the situation.
Craig Corlis is one of the affected seniors in the department. In an email, he wrote, “I was supposed to be doing my senior project this semester […] and my entire schedule was based around having to work on that – and then they completely canceled it and told me I would have to do it next semester, when I already have Calculus II, Advanced Algorithms, a math elective, and other difficult classes scheduled then.”
Corlis added, “I know a few seniors who were scheduled to graduate in December were given alternatives (such as Independent Studies) but I was told they could not do that for me as they did not have the faculty to accommodate it. They also had to get a new part-time professor to teach Theory of Computation, and he added a textbook which Dr. Naumov had not required, so my budget took a hit a week after the semester started. I think I will still be able to graduate, but it is going to be a very difficult semester in the spring for me.”
Hamblen says that he has talked to all the seniors in the department to make sure they are on track and that they would be able to graduate on time. Knauer also said that the Marketing and Communications Office is not aware of any students whose needs have gone unmet.”
With regards to the rest of the students in the department, Mrs. Knauer stated that to her knowledge, “All of the classes that were scheduled to be taught this semester are taking place and some students have opted to do independent studies.”
With some difficulty, McDaniel was able to find new instructors for Naumov’s courses. One of the courses, Data Structures, has been the most problematic. The first two instructors that were hired to teach Data Structures initially agreed to teach the course but then backed out some days later.
McDaniel ended up splitting the class into two sections since the course was not able to retain its original time slot. One section is now taught by an adjunct professor, and the other by a 2014 graduate of the College. Both sections started approximately two weeks late.
Junior Sarah Crockett, a computer science major, considered switching majors, but she decided to remain with the department.
“Dr. Naumov’s absence worries me because, as a junior, I know I should begin working on my computer science senior project soon,” Crocket wrote in an email. “However, I feel that I have no professors to advise me in planning my project, and I don’t know when (or if) this will change.”
Corlis says, Naumov’s leave of absence “has made this a horrible year for computer science majors.”