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Foreign language major faces threat of elimination

Submitted by Jennifer Ellis on September 5, 2012 – 4:04 pmNo Comment

Students who are interested in a foreign language major may have one less option after the 2012-13 academic year, according to a university administrator.

The German studies major is in jeopardy of being eliminated following the spring semester due to lack of demand and too few students graduating from the program, said Sandra Robertson, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Currently there are 23 students enrolled in the major. “Those students will be allowed to finish their degrees in German, but we won’t be accepting any new ones, if this decision is finalized,” Robertson said. “Right now we’re not sure what we are going to do.”

Annually the vice chancellor of academic affairs is charged with examining the viability of the majors the university offers according to standards set forth by the Department of Higher Education Coordinating Board, which requires a minimum of three graduates from the major per academic year to be considered viable.

“We do this with majors all the time, if there is not enough demand, then we have to, we have to,” Robertson said.


“It’s part of efficiency. We can’t be all things to all people.”

Currently there are no other majors being considered for elimination, Robertson said, but because she just recently received the final record it is too early to tell if that will remain true. As far as the fate of the German studies major goes, she said, they are still studying all the possibilities, but will make a final decision before the end of the fall semester.

But the chances of the major lasting don’t look bright when taking into consideration UALR will no longer have any full-time German professors, after the current academic year.

There were two full time German professors until the recent retirement of Jeanette Clausen, which left only Susanne Wagner, who has already been notified her position is being eliminated at the end of the academic year, Robertson said.

However when questioned about the potential elimination of the program by phone Wagner said “I don’t know where you heard that. There’s been no talk of that.”

There are part-time instructors available to teach German courses, Robertson said. But that prospect has German students who were asked about the possibility saying they are worried about the quality of education without a full-time instructor to lead the program.

“As a German major, I am very disappointed. I had not heard about this, although I was aware that our program was shrinking,” said Cayley Griffiths, a sophomore and president of the German Club.

“I am concerned about the elimination of Dr. Wagner’s position affecting my education,” Griffiths said. “Dr. Wagner has been a wonderful professor and has shown a great deal of care for the German program. She puts an enormous amount of effort into her classes, the German Club and the Do Deutsch cultural week. I don’t think that part-time instructors will show the same amount of zeal.”

The vice president of the German club, Sam Shry, a senior double majoring in German and biology, said although he will be graduating in 2013, so the potential change would not be likely to affect him he still thinks eliminating the major is a bad idea because of the important economic relationship and heritage many Americans have with the Germany.

“I think that is one of the programs we need to push harder; we don’t need to get rid of it,” he said.



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