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Russian, Italian could be cut

Russian, Italian could be cut

Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 11:07 am
By: The Associated Press

The Messenger 05.12.10
KNOXVILLE (AP) — The University of Tennessee may discontinue Russian and Italian as majors in its Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures as federal stimulus money expires, and one instructor said eliminating the Russian major “makes no sense.”
An associate professor of Russian, Stephen Blackwell, said there is “tremendous growth, three national awards for students this year and waiting lists” for the classes. He said the recommendation to eliminate Russian as a major seems at odds with the university’s official ‘Ready for the World’ internationalization plan.
UT officials are examining options as the Knoxville campus prepares for a $54 million — or 30 percent — budget cut when federal stimulus funding ends in June 2011.
UT Knoxville Provost Susan Martin said she expects the university to go through the process and “come to some conclusion” in the fall.
Classes and minors in both programs will continue.
Bruce Bursten, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences that includes the two majors, said that during a five-year period, both have averaged fewer than three graduates per year. The majors are also on the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s list of low-producing programs, which means there were fewer than an average of 10 bachelor’s degrees generated per year over the last five years.
“We don’t want to not be able to offer everything,” he said. “Language instruction is very important, and that’s something we definitely are going to preserve.”
Blackwell said there are 36 registered Russian majors at UT, and seven of the department’s students will be going to Russia this summer or next fall. That’s double the recent average number of students going to Russia per year. He said there are three graduates in the Russian major this year, and he expects seven next year and eight in 2012.
Blackwell said he is also concerned about lecturer terminations in the department, which would “pretty much cut (the program review) process off at the knees.”
In April, 316 UT Knoxville employees, including 162 lecturers, were notified that they are being paid with stimulus funds that expire in 2011.
Erec Koch, head of the Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, said UT Knoxville is the only public university in the state that offers majors in Italian and Russian.
Students would still have the opportunity to pursue majors in Italian and Russian through the Language and World Business major, which combines a foreign language major with a minor in International Business Administration or a sub-concentration in either International Retail Merchandising or International Agricultural Economics.
Additionally, UT participates in the Academic Common Market program, which allows UT students to pay discounted tuition at another institution that offers a major that UT doesn’t offer.
Alex Tullock, a graduating senior and Russian major, said he is “really discouraged” to hear that the major is in jeopardy. He said many students who are on a language teaching track do not want to major in Language and World Business, and that the Academic Common Market means students will have to leave UT to pursue coursework.
“The program here has literally changed my life,” said Tullock, who is the recipient of a Fulbright grant, which will allow him to go to Russia for nine months for an English teaching assistantship.
Information from: The Knoxville News Sentinel,

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