Protect the German 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 German program in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics at Florida State University

DATE:  April 15, 2009

 

 

On 12 April 2009, the German Division 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 a 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 German on this list came as a shock to members of the Department and College of Arts and Sciences. Enrollements in German have remained steady and grown despite depletion of faculty.  The division and its faculty have contributed to the prestige and visibility of Florida State University through service and research on the local, state, and national level. The Division supports the local German Saturday School, has served as publisher of the Newsletter for the Florida Foreign Language Association, has provided officers for the Florida Association of Teachers of German, provided the team leader for the development and scoring of the examination for teachers required for certification to teach German in Florida public schools, chaired the test committee for the national CLEP examination for German.  The German faculty has been participants and leaders in events funded by the AATG, the Goethe Institute and DAAD (the German equivalent of Fulbright).  Their efforts have been recognized by FSU Teaching awards, recognition as Florida German teacher of the year, and most recently Professor Christian Weber received the prize of the Goethe Society of North America and Professor Winnifred Adolph was recognized nationally for her service to the profession by the American Association of Teachers of German.

This work has resulted in an enthusiastic and active group of students, and the German Division has had the strongest major enrollment in the department behind Spanish and French for the past thirteen years. Our graduates are currently working in the United States and abroad in fields ranging from university teaching to theater. Our students have pursued doctorate degrees at Berkley, Penn State, Jena (Germany), and Northwestern University among others. This year%u2019s winner of the Kingsbury Honors Thesis Writing Award went to a student in German. Students have received DAAD and Bosch scholarships to study in Germany. Through the German Club, recognized and funded by Student Government students have been active in promoting German language and culture  as well as participating in international events at FSU and TCC.  These activities include teaching in the community%u2019s Deutsche Samstagsschule , regularly participating in the Beyond Border Program to Dresden and providing hospitality to German participants of this program.

All these accomplishments have been achieved in spite of financial restrains imposed on the Division and in the spirit of cooperation with the university in a time of financial hardship. In the past fifteen years four members of the faculty have retired and only 1.5 of these positions has been replaced. The commitment of former faculty to the German program is seen in the John and Ursula Simons Endowment which provides scholarships for summer study in Germany. Since the German Division is a part of the Department of Modern Languages no separate staff or facilities costs are incurred by the Division.

Finally, German is an important language for Florida.  In 2006 trade between Germany and Florida was 6.8 billion dollars. Germany is Florida's largest European trade partner; since 2000 trade between Germany and Florida has grown by 50%.  German-speakers usually rank as the largest group of non-English speaking tourists in Florida.  The losses that would result from elimination of German at Florida State University would far outweigh any short-term gain.

In signing this document, we strongly urge the university administration to remove German 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 German from the list of academic programs proposed for elimination at FSU.

 

On 12 April 2009, the German Division 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 a 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 German on this list came as a shock to members of the Department and College of Arts and Sciences. Enrollements in German have remained steady and grown despite depletion of faculty.  The division and its faculty have contributed to the prestige and visibility of Florida State University through service and research on the local, state, and national level. The Division supports the local German Saturday School, has served as publisher of the Newsletter for the Florida Foreign Language Association, has provided officers for the Florida Association of Teachers of German, provided the team leader for the development and scoring of the examination for teachers required for certification to teach German in Florida public schools, chaired the test committee for the national CLEP examination for German.  The German faculty has been participants and leaders in events funded by the AATG, the Goethe Institute and DAAD (the German equivalent of Fulbright).  Their efforts have been recognized by FSU Teaching awards, recognition as Florida German teacher of the year, and most recently Professor Christian Weber received the prize of the Goethe Society of North America and Professor Winnifred Adolph was recognized nationally for her service to the profession by the American Association of Teachers of German.

This work has resulted in an enthusiastic and active group of students, and the German Division has had the strongest major enrollment in the department behind Spanish and French for the past thirteen years. Our graduates are currently working in the United States and abroad in fields ranging from university teaching to theater. Our students have pursued doctorate degrees at Berkley, Penn State, Jena (Germany), and Northwestern University among others. This year%u2019s winner of the Kingsbury Honors Thesis Writing Award went to a student in German. Students have received DAAD and Bosch scholarships to study in Germany. Through the German Club, recognized and funded by Student Government students have been active in promoting German language and culture  as well as participating in international events at FSU and TCC.  These activities include teaching in the community%u2019s Deutsche Samstagsschule , regularly participating in the Beyond Border Program to Dresden and providing hospitality to German participants of this program.

All these accomplishments have been achieved in spite of financial restrains imposed on the Division and in the spirit of cooperation with the university in a time of financial hardship. In the past fifteen years four members of the faculty have retired and only 1.5 of these positions has been replaced. The commitment of former faculty to the German program is seen in the John and Ursula Simons Endowment which provides scholarships for summer study in Germany. Since the German Division is a part of the Department of Modern Languages no separate staff or facilities costs are incurred by the Division.

Finally, German is an important language for Florida.  In 2006 trade between Germany and Florida was 6.8 billion dollars. Germany is Florida's largest European trade partner; since 2000 trade between Germany and Florida has grown by 50%.  German-speakers usually rank as the largest group of non-English speaking tourists in Florida.  The losses that would result from elimination of German at Florida State University would far outweigh any short-term gain.

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

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