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.   

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