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.

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