Friday, December 10, 2010

Chancellor Martin's Grade for Fall 2010

Had Chancellor Martin attended the Faculty Senate meeting on December 8, the following statement would have been delivered:

"Chancellor Martin, you have chosen to delegate a response to the letters of the AAUP. You have also chosen to postpone a response to the Faculty Senate Resolution 10-14.1. To my students I would say, “This is bad time management and called procrastination.”

Chancellor Martin, you have also chosen to dismantle the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures (and you have accepted responsibility). With this decision, you have not only irrevocably damaged the university as a whole but also the future of students. My students I would ask, “Are you sure that you can live with this decision?”

Chancellor Martin, you have not been a good steward of what has been entrusted to you, neither economically nor academically nor ethically. Ironically, the cost for a team a clever attorneys to present to you a way to fire 14 instructors, exceeds in all likelihood not only the cost of keeping the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures in tact but also retain the FLXIV for another semester. To my students I would say, “Take a course in economics and pay attention to cost/effect.”

Chancellor Martin, you have proven that you have the power to take the ‘human’ out of ‘Humanities’. You have also proven that you have the power to fire 14 foreign language instructors. However, you will never have the power to diminish the importance of foreign languages.

For all your actions or non-actions, you receive an F."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Official Statement to the Faculty Senate

This statement was presented at the Faculty Senate meeting on December 8:

"On behalf of the Foreign Language XIV, I express our sincerest thanks for the efforts of the LSU Chapter and the National Office of the AAUP. It was the right thing to do. I also thank the members of the Faculty Senate for their unanimous vote in favor of Resolution 10-14.1. It was the right thing to do. In fact, this vote has been your finest moment this semester. A special thanks to Dr. Homberger, who worked so hard to draft the resolution and who argued passionately and effectively in favor of the resolution. You are an inspiration to all who take academia seriously. It was the right thing to do. In my book, you receive an A+.

I leave you with the following meditation by Marcus Aurelius….

Very often an unjust act is done by not doing something, 
not only by doing something.

Good luck to all of you."

Chancellor's Response to Faculty Senate Resolution 10-14.1

Update:  LSU General Counsel confirmed in an email dated 12/9 that the Board of Supervisors has never approved action involving foreign language instructors at LSU, calling the veracity of the Chancellor's statement below into question.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

From the Faculty Grievance Committee

"The Faculty Grievance committee met yesterday to consider the grievance that you filed. After reviewing the materials that you submitted, the committee agreed that this matter is outside  of our jurisdiction. This conclusion is based both on the charge to the Faculty Grievance Committee by the Faculty Senate, as well as recent investigations conducted by the committee.

The committee regrets the university’s decision not to reappointment the instructors in foreign languages, and we understand your frustration with the situation. I realize that our sympathy brings you very little comfort at this point and that you are likely disappointed with this outcome. We reviewed your materials carefully and we understand that you do not feel that the criteria were applied fairly.  If we had accepted your grievance and conducted an investigation, we would have interviewed people involved, compared wait lists, course enrollments, and any other evidence to the criteria you were given.  Even if we found that  the criteria were not fairly applied,  however, there is nothing that we as a committee could do to alter the outcome of this situation.  Based on grievances we have heard before, when the university gives a year’s notice of non-reappointment, they are acting within their legal rights, and they do not have to provide a rationale or a cause.

We do not believe that conducting an investigation into your grievance will be productive for you. We do not have any influence in decisions made concerning non-reappointment decisions for individuals who are not in tenure track positions. The decision not to investigate your grievance does not carry with it any evaluative implications.  By declining to consider your grievance, we are simply indicating that this not an issue that we can review."

Monday, November 15, 2010

A new AAUP letter for LSU

The newest letter from the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) to the administrators of LSU states, in part:

"In considering what we had to say particularly about the notices becoming effective in the middle of the academic year, you should find it instructive to know about the conclusions of the Colorado Court of Appeals in a 1984 opinion in Vibrat Subryan v. Regents of the University of Colorado that has subsequently been accepted in other jurisdictions.  An issue in that case was the effective date for the notice under the AAUP's Standards for Notice of Nonreappointment, which had been adopted by the institution.  The court stated in dictum that "the regents must give twelve months notice prior to the end of the appointed term, rather than merely twelve months notice at any time during the appointed term."  As the AAUP observed at the time, the decision provided "assurance that the expiration of appointments of University of Colorado faculty will remain in step with the academic hiring cycle."

Once again, we thank the American Association of University Professors for giving this case the attention it deserves.  Please support the AAUP so they can continue the work they do on behalf of all higher education faculty who find themselves in similar situations.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rally for Higher Education reports

Hundreds rally against higher education cuts - The Advocate Political Blog

Rally Day - FLXIV Interactive

The Rally for Higher Education should be a great way to exchange ideas. Here are some of the ideas we've heard for stopping faculty cuts at LSU.

Add your own in the comments!

1. Administrators could take a voluntary 11 month salary spread out over 12 months. This would generate enough money for to keep foreign language instructors employed through the spring semester (the chancellor said that he would double whatever cut his colleagues agreed to).

2. Each one of the colleges at LSU-BR could adopt a foreign language faculty member for one semester so that the instructors could finish out a full year of service.

3. Other colleges with extra money from vacant faculty lines and other sources could voluntarily contribute to Humanities and Social Sciences (or be directed by the administration to do so) to keep faculty cuts from becoming a reality.

4. Increase out-of-state tuition. LSU could double the amount of out-of-state tuition and it would still be cheaper than in-state tuition in Texas.

5. The Athletic Department which is financially separate from the University could play the hero off the football field and contribute $270,000 to keep faculty from absorbing the budget cuts this year.

6.  The Chancellor could voluntarily act on the recommendations of the AAUP and the Faculty Senate to reinstate the Foreign Language Fourteen until alternatives to faculty cuts can be explored with full faculty representation.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Shout-Out from UC Berkeley

This thoughtful blog entry from UC Berkeley indicates that people in higher education all over the country realize the enormity of foreign language cuts on the LSU campus and more recently at SUNY-Albany.

Monday, November 8, 2010

That's a fact!

The average salary of the FLXIV is $35653. By dismissing fourteen instructors in the middle of an academic year, the University saves approximately $270,000 in salaries and benefits.* The total budget shortfall for the LSU BR campus in 2010-2011 is $48 million. No other faculty or programs have been sacrificed to meet the budget reduction.

*By January, the FLXIV will have received 5/9 of their salary and benefits.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

That's a fact!

The LSU System Office confirmed on Friday, November 5, that the Board of Supervisors has never voted on the proposal to eliminate the German and Latin BA degrees and reduce foreign language options at LSU.  The languages taught by the Foreign Language Fourteen by the numbers:

Six classics (Latin & Greek) instructors
Two German instructors
Two Italian instructors
One Japanese instructor
One Portuguese instructor
One Russian instructor
One Swahili instructor

Languages untouched:

The Advocate article on the Foreign Language Fourteen

"The administration did not [want] to unfairly rob other academic colleges at LSU just to aid foreign languages, [Chancellor Martin] said." Click the link below to read more!

Friday, November 5, 2010

WVLA-33 reports from the LSU Coffin Sit

Kelsey Scram of WVLA, Channel 33 reports on the Foreign Language Fourteen, the AAUP letter, the Faculty Senate Resolution, the "Don't Sink LSU" banner and what's next.  Interviewed are Proud Students and our own Angelika Roy!

Link to the Proud Students' Budget Cuts Video

I wasn't able to embed this, but you should watch it. It's AWESOME!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

AAUP letter sparks local and national media

News story, WVLA Channel 33 - National advocacy group gets behind LSU instructors; Says LSU should extend contracts through end of school year (11/5)

Article in the Chronicle of Higher Education - AAUP Protests Louisiana State U.'s Plan to Lay Off 14 Language Instructors (11/2)

Article in the Advocate (picked up by the Associated Press) - National faculty group criticizes LSU layoffs (11/2)

Article in the Daily Reveille - AAUP wants University to reinstate instructors (11/4)

Faculty Senate Resolution 10-14.1 passes unanimously!

Our sincere thanks to the LSU Chapter of the AAUP for drafting the Resolution, Dominique Homberger who sponsored it, and all the faculty senators who attended the meeting and voted.  See related article here.

150 Years of Classics at LSU - Lecture 11/11/10


Thursday, 11 November, 5:30 in Hodges 324

What do the late LSU Classics professor Robert Edgeworth and Union army
general William Tecumseh Sherman have in common?

Find out at Nathalie Roy's talk on the history of teaching Classical
Studies at LSU. 

 Nathalie Roy, an LSU graduate, teaches Classics at Episcopal High School
in Baton Rouge and is currently the vice president of the Louisiana
Classical Association.  Ms Roy describes her talk as part history
lesson, part trip down memory lane.  

This event is sponsored by Students for the Promotion of Antiquity, Eta
Sigma Phi, and the LSU Classics Colloquium.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A glimmer of good news

On Friday October 29, the national office of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) sent a letter to the Chancellor outlining reasons why the decision to fire the Foreign Language Fourteen should be reconsidered and why our contracts should be extended through August like all other faculty members on the LSU campus. Whether the Chancellor will respond to this letter remains to be seen.

If you are a university instructor or professor who is not a member of the AAUP, I urge you to support this organization which has been the only group since we were fired on August 27 to take our concerns seriously. 

We are extremely grateful for the AAUP's show of support.

* Danke * Domo arigato * Grazie * Gracias * Spasibo
*Obriagada * Gratiam habemus * Eucharisto * Asanteni sana *

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Another example of spin

No mention of the Foreign Language Fourteen who were fired, not lost through attrition.  The figures given in the video are based on the Flagship Agenda which was proposed by a chancellor with real vision. According to the objectives then set forth, LSU should have added 150 faculty positions by now.  The reality is that the University has lost 130.82 full time faculty since the flagship agenda was adopted, resulting in a net loss of 280 from the original goal.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Open Letter to the LSU Board of Supervisors and the Citizens of Louisiana, June 2010

(Note:  this letter was sent twice to The Advocate and was never published.  As of October 23, 2010 the proposal by Chancellor Martin had not been approved by the Board of Supervisors.  The firing of 14 foreign language instructors was precedented on this approval.)

Chancellor Martin's letter (June 23) was full of doom and gloom, but he makes his proposed cuts to the Humanities and other programs at LSU sound like a fait accompli.  These cuts still must be approved by the Board of Supervisors, which meets on July 15, and by the Board of Regents.  

I call upon the members of these Boards to keep in mind that Humanities are the basis of the modern university.  By recently renaming the college the "College of Humanities and Social Sciences" President Lombardi reaffirmed the University's commitment to the Humanities, which may be defined as the interdisciplinary study of languages, literatures, history, philosophy, religion, art and culture of ancient and modern civilizations--in other words, all the facets which define us as humans.  The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, which has been singled out in Phase One for the elimination of two BA programs and the reduction of language choices, fosters communication  and understanding between cultures  and within our own.  These are skills that our students need to compete in an increasingly global job market.  The elimination of languages and other Humanities-based programs will limit the opportunities for our graduates, and is bound to reduce the number of international students and international researchers who are awarded grants that bring money and international recognition to Louisiana State University.  If you blast the foundation of a university education with such tactics, the rest of the institution is sure to crumble. 

Furthermore, I call on the citizens of Louisiana to protest these cuts by writing to the Board of Supervisors (addresses can be found on the LSU website at  If we react by doing nothing, Chancellor Martin and the rest of the administration will gladly accept their Pyrrhic victory and the southern tradition of a classical, Humanities-based education will perish.   

Thursday, October 21, 2010

That's a fact!

As of September 30, 2010, there were 130.82 full time positions vacant at LSU, for a total amount of $10.46 million.  As noted in the FLXIV meeting with the Chancellor, "each Dean retains the unexpended salaries from vacant faculty lines and uses the funds in multiple ways including for support and personnel needs."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

That's a fact!

Of 238 letters of non-reappointment sent out to state-paid instructors on January 22, 2010, only fourteen are being enforced.  All fourteen instructors are in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.

FLXIV Interactive: What else can we do?

We've petitioned the administration to continue our contracts through spring, and they have refused "given the budget situation." We've written letters to the Chancellor, the Board of Supervisors, the Board of Regents, the Reveille, the Advocate, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. We've marched in the Jazz Funeral for Higher Education. We've met with the Faculty Senate and the AAUP.  We've set up a Facebook page and a blog. All of this has been to increase awareness that budget cuts at LSU are real and the administration is exacting its pound of flesh from the most vulnerable limbs of academia (the humanities).  
WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO? Leave a comment with your suggestions.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

FLXIV Interactive - When did you first realize knowing a foreign language was cool?

Can you understand Japanese in an anime film?
Do you know that Spanish won't get you anywhere in Brazil?
Can you read Plato in ancient Greek?
Do you know what the German motto of Volkswagen means?
Can you translate the motto of Hogwarts into English?
Can you read street signs in Russia?
Can you successfully order (or avoid) ossobuco in Italy?
Do you get more out the Lion King because you know Swahili?
Can you read the Old Testament in Hebrew?

When did you first realize that knowing a foreign language was cool?  Leave a note in the comments!

Friday, October 15, 2010

That's a fact!

* In 2009-2010, the Foreign Language Fourteen taught 1523 students, for a total of 5783 credit hours.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Letter to the Chronicle of Higher Education

UPDATE: This letter was published in the November 7 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education (LINK).

Letter to the Editor:
What a thrill it was to see the LSU Jazz Funeral for Higher Education splashed all over the Chronicle on October 8!  One of the things that got 400 faculty and students riled up at this otherwise apathetic institution was the case of the Foreign Language Fourteen.  With $42 million of budget cuts mandated to the LSU campus for 2010-2011, fourteen foreign language instructors are the ONLY faculty being dismissed in the middle of the academic year, for an approximate savings of $270,000.  We have presented a very reasonable argument to the administration for extending our contracts through August 2011 (something 224 other endangered instructors received) but we have been told that "we live in hard economic times" and "the money simply isn't there."  Never mind that the graduation requirements for hundreds of students are jeopardized.  Never mind that the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures was targeted in covert meetings over the summer. Never mind that the administration is making unilateral decisions that drastically affect the curriculum over which it has no such authority and for which there is, apparently, no accountability.  Never mind that one of those instructors provides the only foreign language option for students with disabilities.  Never mind that Japanese, Russian, Swahili and Portuguese will no longer be taught at LSU. Never mind that the classics, Italian and German faculties have been cut in half.  The administration stands by its decision to dismiss these fourteen faculty members as of January 2011 "given the budget situation."  The arbitrariness of these actions has created an atmosphere of distrust and fear at LSU.  The Foreign Language Fourteen believe that Louisiana State University is setting a dangerous precedent, and, despite the odds, we are determined to fight to save foreign languages at this once noble institution. For more on the Foreign Language Fourteen, find us on Facebook or at

Johanna Sandrock, Angelika Roy 
Proud members of the Foreign Language Fourteen

Monday, October 11, 2010

Who are The Foreign Language Fourteen?

We are fourteen instructors of foreign languages at Louisiana State University who have been non-reappointed as of January 21, 2011 because of budget cuts.  We teach classical studies, Latin, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Swahili.  We have 160 years of service to LSU between us.

The state legislature has handed down catastrophic budget cuts to Louisiana State University ($42 million for the academic year 2010-2011) but the Foreign Language Fourteen are the ONLY faculty casualties so far.  By dismissing us in the middle of an academic year, the University will save approximately $270,000 in salary and benefits, less than 1% of of the entire budget shortfall.  After the other 224 endangered instructors had their contracts extended through August, we respectfully requested an extension of our own contracts by a mere sixteen weeks so that we could finish the academic year with a sense of purpose and closure.  Our repeated requests have been denied by the administration "given the budget situation."

The decision to target foreign languages has not been satisfactorily explained.  We only know that the Chancellor is acting on the recommendation of a 16 person committee consisting of deans of four other colleges (not Humanities and Social Sciences), no foreign language faculty member, and only two from the Humanities.

The administration clearly does not recognize or does not care that the graduation requirements for hundreds of students are being jeopardized, and that the proposed cuts and corresponding lowering of the foreign language requirements will result in the complete devastation of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, the International Studies program, the African American Studies program, the graduate program in Comparative Literature, and, more than likely, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.