Department Chairs Clarify Recent Misinformation
While rumors regarding the shutdown of more departments continue to spread through campus, several have turned out to be false.
The Department of French and Italian and the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies are not being phased out, the Wheel has confirmed.
Elissa Marder, the department chair of French and Italian, said rumors had circulated that her department was merging with Comparative Literature. The merge, Marder said, is “bad language.” Marder clarified that the two departments will now share one administrative position and one director of graduate studies (DGS), as opposed to each department having its own.
“The deans assume that we can keep our own distinct profile and identity of a graduate and Ph.D. program in French, and that comparative literature can define their own identity even though we share one staff person and one DGS,” she said. “[The deans] also are encouraging us to work with the intellectual synergy that has long existed — I, myself, am joint-appointed [in comparative literature] — and they’d like us to maximize efficiencies intellectually as well, but that is up to us.”
Marder added that her department has been approved to find an associate professor in French — a position, she said, that is a tenured appointment.
“That is a vote of confidence in our graduate and undergraduate program,” she said.
Pamela Scully, the department chair of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, also debunked rumors regarding her department.
“Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies is not affected directly by these cuts at all,” she wrote in an email to the Wheel. “Our department is one of the top, if not the top department of WGSS in the country. We are very much supported by the College and the Laney Graduate School.”
There continues to be conflicting reports about the fate of Hindi and Persian programs. Several students taking Hindi and Persian Language Coordinator and lecturer Hossein Samei have both said Hindi and Persian have been cut.
Forman denied the decision, saying that he and Vincent Cornell, the chair of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies (MESAS), are having discussions and have not reached a final resolution.
“These languages have not generated the enrollments that we have seen in most of our language courses, and hence we must ask the same hard questions about these courses that we would of any undersubscribed course,” Forman wrote in an email to the Wheel.
Forman acknowledged Persian and Hindi’s role in graduate education but wrote that such a role does not imply that “we must teach these languages in standard language courses.”
Cornell reiterated Forman’s position.
“I can confirm that as of today the statuses of Persian and Hindi in MESAS are being negotiated,” Cornell wrote in an email to the Wheel.
“I am not prepared to make any other statement in the midst of negotiations.”
— By Evan Mah