FLC students speak up for foreign languages

French, German, Japanese to be axed next year

The Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees meeting was dominated by discussions about modern languages Friday as faculty and students urged the board to reconsider administrators’ decisions earlier this year to cut professors in German, Japanese and French.

The move means that neither German nor Japanese courses will be offered next year, and the contract of a tenure-track faculty member in French will end after next year.

At the meeting, four students spoke about the importance of foreign language and criticized the lack of student input in the decision.

Bryanna Durkee presented the trustees a petition with 144 signatures in support of modern languages. Nathan Guss, the French professor who was denied tenure, spoke about his tenure-worthy accomplishments at the college and the potential of the French major.

Administrators made their decision without the knowledge of department faculty nor input from them, said Ellen Hartsfield, modern languages department chairwoman.

Chuck Riggs, anthropology professor and faculty representative on the board of trustees, presented a resolution requesting a faculty-led review of the program-related decisions made in modern languages.

“We would like to have a dialogue about how we can fix this,” Riggs told the board.

The faculty cuts were necessitated because of limited dollars and low enrollment, said Barbara Morris, FLC’s vice president of academic affairs. Part of the struggle is attracting students to language programs when they aren’t required by other departments, Morris said.

She emphasized that French course offerings have not yet been affected and that none of the administrators’ decisions are permanent. Faculty members argued that the decisions will become permanent by default.

“It’s hard to garner support for courses that are not being offered,” said Jim Cross, president of the Faculty Senate. Courses that are not taught for three years are automatically eliminated.

The board did not take action on the faculty’s resolution because making those decisions would be “micromanagement,” which is not the board’s role, said Heidi Baskfield, chairwoman of the board of trustees.

In other news, FLC President Dene Kay Thomas announced that Linda Schott, dean of the school of arts, humanities and social sciences,will be leaving the college at the end of the year to become president at the University of Maine at Presque Isle.

ecowan@durangoherald.com

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