Monday, November 8, 2010


I got a pretty good education at the State University of New York at Albany, and I have fond memories of the old place, even though they are now trying to make it sound more elegant by calling it "the University at Albany". Therefore, I was stunned to see the following announcement on Facebook about a month ago:

This past Friday the University at Albany announced that it will be eliminating the French B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. programs as well as dismissing 7 professors of French, 3 professors of Russian, 2 professors in Italian, and one in Latin. This leaves Spanish as the sole Department in the "Department of Languages." In addition the theater and classics department will be phased out and eliminated by 2012.
Let me think this through, the way I was taught to think in my liberal arts and sciences college education. The Department of Languages will consist of one language. Why teach them; let's just all speak English. No classics. Who needs to know Latin, the basis for all Romance languages...oh, right, there aren't going to be any, except Spanish. Who needs to read those old Greeks who understood the human psyche so well that they are still relevant today. Well, you could always stage one of their plays. Oops, no you can't, no theater. Really, it's better that way; why put ideas into these kids' heads that they could make a living at acting? Pretty soon, a college degree will consist of exactly those courses that are necessary to get a job. And that will be called an education.

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