Protect the Slavic/Russian program at FSU

An open letter to Florida State University President T.K. Wetherell, Provost Lawrence G. Abele, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Joseph Travis, and to the wider administrative, academic, student and cultural communities

RE:The proposed elimination of the Slavic/Russian program in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics at Florida State University

DATE: 14 April 2009

On 13 April 2009, the Slavic/Russian program of the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics at Florida State University appeared on a list of twenty-one academic programs proposed for closure over the next three years. The list was circulated as part of a draft budget document sent by FSU administrators to the Board of Trustees. The budget proposal is contingent upon the final decision of the Board and the next budgetary session of the state legislature.

The inclusion of Slavic/Russian on this list came as a shock to members of the Department and the College of Arts and Sciences, including the Department Chair and the Dean. Enrollments in Russian language and culture courses have shown steady growth. The university has bolstered its own research profile by citing the Slavic faculty's achievements, among them Fulbright, Mellon, ACLS, and American Councils fellowships and grants, and scholarly monographs with the University of Toronto Press, Moscow State University Press, and Palgrave (forthcoming). Two of its three faculty members have received University Teaching Awards.

Our recent graduates are currently employed in the State Department, Defense Language Institute and Department of Defense. Others are enrolled in doctoral programs in Slavic at the University of Toronto and Harvard, and master's programs in International Affairs at Georgetown and History at Indiana. On the very day the proposal to eliminate our program was made public, a faculty member (Romanchuk) was giving an invited talk at a symposium at Harvard.

The elimination of Slavic is proposed as a cost-saving measure. However, because the Slavic Division operates under the umbrella of the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, its operating costs are minimal. It does not have separate staff support or require separate facilities or materials for daily operations. Moreover, in conditions that demand that academic programs produce assessable outcomes using minimal resources, the Slavic Division has been a genuine success. As no rationale for eliminating the Slavic Division was provided in the budget proposal document, we can only assume that student and faculty achievements and actual cost benefits were overlooked when the program was listed among those slated for elimination.

Finally, Russian is designated a critical language by the US Department of State, yet FSU administrators have proposed that this is the time to eliminate the study of Russian. The losses that would result from the proposed elimination outweigh any conceivable gain.

In signing this document, we strongly urge the university administration to remove Slavic from the list of academic programs proposed for elimination at FSU. Thank you for your time and consideration.

We, the undersigned, strongly urge the Florida State University administration to remove Slavic from the list of academic programs proposed for elimination at FSU.

On 13 April 2009, the Slavic/Russian program of the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics at Florida State University appeared on a list of twenty-one academic programs proposed for closure over the next three years. The list was circulated as part of a draft budget document sent by FSU administrators to the Board of Trustees. The budget proposal is contingent upon the final decision of the Board and the next budgetary session of the state legislature.

The inclusion of Slavic/Russian on this list came as a shock to members of the Department and the College of Arts and Sciences, including the Department Chair and the Dean. Enrollments in Russian language and culture courses have shown steady growth. The university has bolstered its own research profile by citing the Slavic faculty's achievements, among them Fulbright, Mellon, ACLS, and American Councils fellowships and grants, and scholarly monographs with the University of Toronto Press, Moscow State University Press, and Palgrave (forthcoming). Two of its three faculty members have received University Teaching Awards.

Our recent graduates are currently employed in the State Department, Defense Language Institute and Department of Defense. Others are enrolled in doctoral programs in Slavic at the University of Toronto and Harvard, and master's programs in International Affairs at Georgetown and History at Indiana. On the very day the proposal to eliminate our program was made public, a faculty member (Romanchuk) was giving an invited talk at a symposium at Harvard.

The elimination of Slavic is proposed as a cost-saving measure. However, because the Slavic Division operates under the umbrella of the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, its operating costs are minimal. It does not have separate staff support or require separate facilities or materials for daily operations. Moreover, in conditions that demand that academic programs produce assessable outcomes using minimal resources, the Slavic Division has been a genuine success. As no rationale for eliminating the Slavic Division was provided in the budget proposal document, we can only assume that student and faculty achievements and actual cost benefits were overlooked when the program was listed among those slated for elimination.

Finally, Russian is designated a critical language by the US Department of State, yet FSU administrators have proposed that this is the time to eliminate the study of Russian. The losses that would result from the proposed elimination outweigh any conceivable gain.

In signing this document, we strongly urge the university administration to remove Slavic from the list of academic programs proposed for elimination at FSU. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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