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.