Cutting ESL was a mistake

CLA recently eliminated its renowned ESL master’s program.

Editorial board

One of the things that makes the University of Minnesota great is the high number of international students enrolled at the University.

International students at our University and others, however, often need instruction in English as a second language to succeed in academics. The University of Minnesota had a nationally renowned program âÄî the only one in the state âÄî to train teachers for teaching postsecondary students English as a second language.

However, in October, the College of Liberal Arts cut that program. While CLA Dean James Parente, who made the decision to cut the program, mentioned that the College of Education and Human Development has a masterâÄôs program in ESL as well, that program focuses on preparing students to teach English as a second language to K-12 students. The CLA program prepares teachers for college-level instruction.

Another reason Parente gave for cutting the program was that two of the departmentâÄôs three members have announced their impending retirements. This is not a legitimate reason to cut an academic program.

While it is understandable that all colleges are currently looking to make cuts given the difficult financial times, it makes little sense to cut a program that is both nationally and internationally recognized. This is especially true when it is the only program in the state that serves its function.

By cutting the ESL program, the University is weakening itself rather than focusing on and developing its strengths. The masterâÄôs in the ESL program was a unique feature of the University, and getting rid of it is counterproductive for the University and the state.