Help Save Classics at the University of Vermont!

The fine folks at UVM’s Classics department asked me to get the word out:

Dear Fellow Classicists,

We would be very grateful if you sign our petition to reverse the 50% cut to Classics that the University of Vermont has suffered in the last three years. UVM is now undergoing a regime change—influenced in part by campus-wide protests to humanities cutbacks—and we hope to prevail upon the incoming president (Suresh Garimella, currently Provost of Purdue) to restore us to the 2015 staffing level that was already deemed minimal by our external program review that same year.

For more specifics, please see the SCS blog: https://classicalstudies.org/scs-blog/university-vermont-classics-department/blog-fighting-future-classics-university-vermont.

The petition is here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wN1GdE5nKzbTeney7Kp3nZCYkFkblKeur8tu-bHFgig/edit#gid=0

Yours gratefully,

The Department of Classics, Universitas Viridis Montis
The University of Vermont

 

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Sad Day at MSU: Last Classics Major Graduates

Excerpts from an item at the Lansing State Journal:

Andrew Crocker wasn’t in East Lansing on Friday. He didn’t put on cap and gown along with Michigan State University’s 6,951 other graduates. He was in Dublin, Ohio, where family matters brought him some months ago.

His graduation merits notice because it marks an ending. Crocker was the last classical studies major at MSU.

“It’s sad to be the last person,” he said, earlier this week by phone, “especially because I loved it so much.”

Classics was one of a spate of programs placed on the chopping block in the fall of 2009. The university was both responding to declines in state support and taking the opportunity to reassess its priorities.

[…]

Classical studies has a different sort of historical resonance, of course. Prior to the Civil War, most American colleges required heavy doses of Latin and Greek, and even classes in the sciences would often evoke Aristotle and other ancient authorities. It was a part of the backbone of American higher education, even if more modern subject matter and more experimentally oriented methods would ultimately make it an optional rather than a required part of the curriculum.

It was different at Michigan Agricultural College, which began as a school for farmers’ sons. Latin and Greek weren’t part of the curriculum at first. The practical arts and sciences took precedence. Virgil, Homer and recitations of hic, haec, hoc would come later.

“The university has a mission, I think, to preserve and transmit cultural heritage and values, and they’ve decided that people aren’t interested in that anymore,” said John Rauk, a professor of classics at MSU, who now mostly teaches general education courses and introductory Latin.

Formally, the program isn’t gone yet. As Karin Wurst, the dean of the College of Arts and Letters noted, it will remain on moratorium through the next academic year, meaning it won’t accept any new students.

But a moratorium is frequently a first step toward eliminating a program and with no majors and one of the three remaining classical studies professors, William Tyrrell, retiring this spring, few seem to expect that it will come back.

The university has been “retreating from the humanities in a significant way,” Rauk said.

“It’s the end of something that didn’t need to be lost, I think.”

Tyrrell was harsher. He said MSU was “giving up its commitment to what a university should be.”

MSU is a big place, of course. There are other professors, in art and history and other departments, who teach courses on the ancient world. But the offerings are diminished, in Latin and Greek especially.

It is the only Big Ten school without an active classics major.

Students now have to go elsewhere to learn the language of the Spartans.

“Once you know the ancient world, you can really see the reverberations today and how we as modern people look back and interpret the ancient world and use that to create our own identity,” Crocker said.

He began studying Latin in high school. At MSU, he discovered an interest in classical archeology. His plan is to brush up on his ancient Greek, his French and his German and apply to graduate school.

Studying classics made him a better student and a better person, he said.

“I’m hoping the university will come to its senses and reinstate it,” Crocker said. “If it doesn’t, that’s a great loss.”

… didn’t know they taught Dorian Greek at MSU. For some background on the demise: Classics Threatened at MSU!!!

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Classics Threatened at the University of Alberta?

Sharing an item from Tom Sienkewicz

Cuts at the University of Alberta include Classics

In a memo dated August 16, 2013, Dean Lesley Cormack of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta announced plans to suspend twenty undergraduate programs and concentrations, with new admissions to be halted immediately. These suspensions are in response to a reduction in government funding of $56 million for the university.

At http://artssquared.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/open-letter-from-alexander-beecroft-classics-comparative-literature-university-of-south-carolina-ba-ualberta-1995/ you can read a letter of concern about this decision by Alexander Beecroft, an alumnus of the University of Alberta, an Associate Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at the University of South Carolina, and a CAMWS member. Prof. Beecroft has also initiated a petition to Dean Lesley Cormack, Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta to save these programs. You can read about this petition at

http://www.change.org/petitions/dean-lesley-cormack-faculty-of-arts-university-of-alberta-save-20-undergraduate-programs-at-the-university-of-alberta.

Si vales, valeo.

Tom Sienkewicz

CAMWS Secretary-Treasurer

I’ll append some press coverage … we’ve seen this ‘argument’ from the beancounting administrators before:

Program in Peril: Philology at UPatras

University of Patras
University of Patras (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a different sort of ‘peril’ … they’re not talking about eliminating the department which includes Classics, but relocating it some 280 km away to a place of little reputation, for want of a better term. Here’s where you can sign the petition:

Classics Threatened in Russian Universities!

This one’s potentially confusing as there are two petitions kicking around, one in Russian:

… and one in English (which, according to Boris Kaiatchev in the Classics International Facebook group, is specifically aimed at folks outside of Russia because one of the criteria affecting all this is ‘the degree of internationalization’):

The Russian one has a link to read the petition in Russian, and it seems specific to St Petersburg; the English one seems more general. It was suggested the English one might be better for folks like us to sign, but if one would like to sign the Russian one, here’s a guide (courtesy of Edith Hall) of what the various blanks on the side mean: