Chinese, Arabic, Hindi – Yes; French, Russian, German – Nein!

Dear Commons Community,

The NY Times has a sad article on how a number of college/universities are making difficult decisions about the foreign language programs on their campuses.  Officials from SUNY Albany, the University of Maine, Louisiana State University and others are cited as blaming budgetary pressures for these decisions.    Furthermore, globalization  has pushed decision makers not to eliminate foreign languages altogether but to seek to shift resources from European languages to Asian and Middle Eastern languages.   The argument seems to be that if the language has economic relevance, it can stay;  if not, au revoir.   For example, at Winona State University  in Minnesota, officials have placed a moratorium on new majors in French and German while it “challenges the faculty to make those disciplines more relevant to the contemporary world”.

Here in New York State, it will be painful to see how officials at SUNY and CUNY will handle the budgetary situations in which they will find themselves over the next several years.  Governor-elect Cuomo has given every indication that cuts will be deep.    CUNY has already authorized tuition increases somewhere in the range of  5-10% for  next year.  At some point, our presidents, provosts and deans will look at academic programs  and support services.


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