Business Saving Classics at UIC?

I thought we had mentioned the problems at  UIC before, but I can’t seem to find it. In any event, here’s a very interesting item from the Chicago Flame:

In an effort to heighten student interest in the university’s small but well-recognized Classics department, a recent alumnus has organized a team of 24 business students to launch a marketing campaign that promises to brand a new name for the studies.

Lorenzo Varela, coordinator of the project, responded immediately to the threat of elimination of the Classics department.

Beginning in the upcoming fall semester, Ancient Greek 101 will be suspended for an indefinite period of time. Meanwhile, Latin is not entirely suspended but will be “curtailed.”

With not enough enrollment in the two languages and with the university facing severe budget cuts, the decision on whether or not to keep or cut the programs is a difficult one to make.

Varela, who graduated from UIC last fall with a degree in Entrepreneurship, began to recruit students from the College of Business Administration with the offer of internship credit for their work.

“My personal belief,” Varela said, “is that this department applies to everybody – even the Business department. The skills they teach you, such as critical reasoning, interpreting and analyzing data, you know, you can use that for anything. It’s so versatile. If only the program would have been more marketed or crossed with other majors, it could survive.”

Along with representatives from the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), the marketing team hopes to raise both interest and enrollment for Ancient Greek 101 and Latin courses, and to encourage more students to major in the Classics.

Current initiatives include redesigning the department website, posting flyers to advertise the courses, creating a logo, and soliciting sponsorships from businesses in the Greek community.

In addition, the Classics department will sponsor “The Apology of Socrates,” a one-man play by Yiannis Simonides, with the financial help of USG and the Greek community. The event will take place on March 30 in Lecture Center F3 at 4 p.m. While the play is intended to show Plato’s relevance to students in the present time, how much interest it can raise remains uncertain.

“The bottom line is money,” Jeff Melichar, a third-year English education and Classics double major said. “Unless there’s an endowment or contribution from someone, it’ll be hard to convince the higher-ups to keep the program at full strength. Fundraisers probably wouldn’t help much either, but if we can just get one really generous millionaire to throw some money our way, things would improve a great deal.”

Currently UIC is the only public university in Chicago to offer Ancient Greek and Latin. Alumni of the languages are reported to have greater success entering into Law and Medicine. They also report higher scores on standardized tests, such as the GRE and LSAT.

“If the Greek and Latin majors are suspended,” said Nanno Marinatos, Professor and Director of Studies of Classics, “the entire Classics Department will wither away. No serious scholar will ever want to come to UIC to teach high-school level mythology and literature classes.”

“Teaching Greek authors in the original is a way for faculty and students to maintain high-level performance at UIC which aspires to be a world-class university,” Marinatos continued. “We wish to maintain a serious profile in the international community to which we belong and by which we are highly esteemed.”

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