CLA Assembly axes two majors, minor

The cut to the humanities and the West minor drew organized opposition, with 57 students submitting affidavits in support of the program.

Two majors and a minor were approved for elimination by the College of Liberal Arts Assembly Tuesday night.
Cutting the classical and near eastern archaeology and ancient Mediterranean studies majors was approved in unanimous votes without discussion, as was the vote to create a public health minor.
But the proposed elimination of the humanities in the West minor drew organized opposition from department instructor James Norwood and 57 students who submitted affidavits in support of the program.
âÄúWe have a vibrant curriculum,âÄù Norwood said in defense of the program before it was chopped in a nearly unanimous voice vote. The minor is the humanities programâÄôs only degree offering.
The Assembly vote likely marked the end of the disciplineâÄôs legacy at the University, which has offered courses in that area since the 1940s, cultural studies professor and former humanities program member Richard Leppert said.
Assembly members voiced approval for the interdisciplinary focus of the program despite voting to close it.
While humanistic study takes place within traditional departments, history professor JB Shank said the humanities programâÄôs primary focus on unifying disciplines is unique.
âÄúThis currently is the only structure that really allows that,âÄù he said, but added that he supported eliminating the current structure in favor of a redesigned alternative.
Three students testified in support of the humanities program, including senior Charlie Berg, who will receive a humanities in the West minor this spring.
 âÄúBy eliminating the humanities, you are stifling the opportunities of your students, forcing them into learning they did not choose,âÄù he said in an affidavit filed before the meeting.
 âÄúThe University absolutely loses something,âÄù Berg said.
The proposals now head to Provost Tom Sullivan before receiving final approval by the Board of Regents. CLA spokeswoman Kelly OâÄôBrien said that would likely happen before the BoardâÄôs May meeting.
The humanities department was closed in 1992, but a humanities program housing the minor continued. Recent enrollment figures were not available but Norwood, who forfeited his tenure as a theater arts and dance professor to join the program full-time in 2001, said enrollment was too strong to warrant closure.
But the programâÄôs sole professor, George Kliger, is retiring at the end of this semester, leaving humanities with no faculty. The programâÄôs courses will not be renewed next year.
âÄúIf you look at every other degree, there is faculty attached to that,âÄù OâÄôBrien said. She said the decision was based on programming, not finances, reiterating the collegeâÄôs stance when it first moved to cut the program last autumn.