More Foreign Language Cuts at a University

Louisiana State University is proposing to cut some of its foreign language programs as this article from USA Today (May 25, 2010) reveals:

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU is proposing to eliminate several academic degree programs and institutes ranging from the School of Library and Information Sciences to bachelor’s degrees in German and Latin.

The “Phase I” plan calls for closing offices like the Louisiana Population Data Center and architecture’s Office of Community Preservation.

Also, state funding would be axed for the United States Civil War Center, the Center for French and Francophone Studies, the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History and more.

The proposals of 20 such closures or cuts to save $3 million a year come at a time when public colleges have been cut about $290 million with more budgetary axing is anticipated in the summer 2011.

“This is the brutal and unfortunate outcome of budget cuts at an institution committed to excellence,” LSU Chancellor Michael Martin said Monday.

Ensuring that areas of strength remain so means making tough decisions elsewhere, he said.

Martin said the timeline for making the cuts is not final.

Beth Paskoff, dean of the LSU School of Library and Information Science, is among those saying she plans to fight the plans, specifically the phased-out elimination of the master’s degree in library and information sciences over two or three years. One of LSU’s more popular master’s programs, it graduates close to 70 students a year and is the only such program in the state, she said.

The degree is needed to be a library director and is considered entry-level for library leadership, she said.

Such program eliminations would need to be approved by the LSU Board of Supervisors and the Louisiana Board of Regents.

“Access to information is so important for every citizen,” Paskoff said. “Closing us would hurt the people of Louisiana. I sympathize with the university &hellip but I know this is a bad cut.”

Emily Batinski, chairwoman of the LSU foreign languages and literatures department, said LSU also will suffer by cutting German, Latin and other foreign language offerings.

The degree programs may graduate fewer than 10 students a year, Batinski said. But there is value in the class offerings to students of other academic majors, she said.

Joachim Singelmann, Louisiana Population Data Center director, said his center receives no state funds and helps faculty in other departments acquire federal grants.

“It looks like streamlining, but it hurts the institution,” Singelmann said.

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