Slavic and German Languages Merge at UNC

At least these two departments won’t be cut or desolved — only merged.

Article by Amelia Nitz in The Daily Tar Heel (February 14, 2011):

In response to productivity standards issues and a cut of at least $3 million for the College of Arts and Sciences, the Slavic languages and literatures department will merge with the Germanic languages and literatures department.

The two departments are merging to ensure that their undergraduate majors, when combined, will create one major with enough students to warrant its survival by the University’s General Administration, said Bill Andrews, senior associate dean of the College.

“By combining them, we preserve them,” he said. “I don’t want to see the opportunity to study foreign languages eroded to the point where our students don’t have a chance to study these languages.”

The departments have anticipated deep budget cuts for some time, a factor they considered when they decided to merge their programs in November, said Christopher Putney, chairman of the Slavic languages and literatures department.

As one of the smallest units in the College, the department has historically been targeted as a low productivity program, he said.

Low productivity programs produce fewer than 20 undergraduate degree recipients in any two-year period and are usually primary targets for elimination during budget cuts, Putney said.

The merger will ensure that the department won’t continue to be a low productivity program, because the combined major will likely produce more than the required 20 degree recipients every two years.

“We see this as a step that will help protect our program in the future from possible targeting for elimination,” Putney said.

The new merger will not stop students who are already completing their track from obtaining degrees in their departments, he added.

“Our undergraduate majors will continue to be served at least as well with the merged unit as they have been in the past,” Putney said.

Putney said students who had already declared majors and completed 50 percent or more of the coursework toward the major by the end of this semester will receive the pre-merger degree.

The changes will not take place until after July 1. After that date, any student declaring a major in either department will be enrolled in and select a concentration within the merged program.

The concentrations will include Russian language and culture, Slavic and East European languages and cultures, Germanic studies and Germanic literature and culture.

“Both the Slavic and German groups are behind this and understand why it is necessary and why it will allow us to continue to do things we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do,” said Clayton Koelb, chairman of the Germanic languages and literatures department.

Putney said the Slavic languages and literatures department’s faculty will not be affected by this merger. In an e-mail he sent to his faculty and graduate students in November, Putney said all tenured, tenure-track and fixed-term faculty will continue to teach and conduct research in the areas where they have been working.

Koelb added that his department would not lose faculty members and is actually hiring more.

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