Winona State drops 2 language degrees

Beginning-level classes will still be taught.

Winona State University students who were interested in declaring a major or minor in German or French last week were met with the harsh reality that it was no longer an option. Winona College of Liberal Arts interim dean Peter Henderson announced Monday that the school would no longer offer degrees in German and French come next fall. Henderson said he believes the future isnâÄôt in any European languages other than Spanish. The proposal, which is dependent on approval from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system , comes as the school prepares to launch a department focused on foreign languages and global studies, Winona German and French professor Ron Mazur said. The decision was made after two months of deliberation, Mazur said. In the end, enrollment in the major was a large factor. For German, there are currently 17 majors and nine minors in the program. In French, seven students have declared majors while 16 are seeking minors. Beginning levels of both languages will continue to be taught at Winona. Henderson said he is unsure as to what the cost savings of cutting these programs will be. âÄúI find it dismaying, these languages are as important as ever,âÄù Mazur, who has taught at Winona for 31 years, said. âÄúStudents say they come to study specifically these languages.âÄù âÄúWhat is it really accomplishing?âÄù he added. University of Minnesota Department of German, Scandinavian and Dutch chair Charlotte Melin agrees. âÄúWe learn different things from different languages and from different nationalities,âÄù Melin said. âÄúThese are countries that are models for us for the future for social organization, health care, environmental science and sustainable cultures. It would be very unfortunate if students did not have the opportunities to interact with the culture and ideas that are represented in these nationally defined languages.âÄù Melin said she believes the future is for students to not only learn another language like Spanish, but also a second or third after that, adding that many other countries have citizens who are multi-lingual. âÄúIf the decision to cut back on foreign language teaching is purely driven by tight budget, it is too bad,âÄù University French department chair Daniel Brewer said. âÄúIt is a global world, and the entry point is through language.âÄù âÄîAssociated Press contributed to this report.