West Virginia University announced Tuesday, after its Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics appealed its proposed elimination, that administrators will still recommend to the WVU Board of Governors axing all of the department’s undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
But WVU has backed off, a little, from its widely lambasted consideration of laying off the whole faculty and offering only online foreign language instruction, possibly through an app or a partnership with another university.
Instead, it’s now proposing to offer courses in Chinese and Spanish—while still jettisoning the department’s teaching of Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Russian.
“An appeal presented during an Aug. 25 hearing has resulted in a final recommendation to eliminate foreign language majors and master’s degree programs but to continue to provide face-to-face instruction in two languages,” the news release said. “It is recommended the department reduce the number of faculty positions to five and move them into another unit yet to be determined.” WVU has said there are currently 24 faculty members in the department.
“We listened to our students’ feedback and have provided an option for face-to-face language instruction,” said Maryanne Reed, WVU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, in the release. “This final recommendation will allow students to take language courses as electives and potentially as minors. This will also support our students pursuing prestigious scholarships and membership in honorary organizations such as Phi Beta Kappa. We feel this recommendation addresses the continued enrollment decline while serving the needs of our students.”
The department’s current foreign language majors are French, Spanish, Chinese studies, German studies and Russian studies, and it offers master’s degrees in linguistics and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Amy S. Thompson, Woodburn Professor of Applied Linguistics and chair of the department, wrote in an email Tuesday, “We did not appeal individual programs, as we were told that wouldn’t work.”
“While being about to retain five-six faculty to teach languages is better than zero faculty (this was the original recommendation), it is still a disappointing outcome that will disadvantage WVU students for years to come,” she wrote.
The Board of Governors will vote Sept. 15 on whether to enact the final recommendations. In “preliminary” recommendations released Aug. 11, WVU announced plans to slash nearly one-tenth of the majors and 169 full-time faculty positions from its flagship Morgantown campus.