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PSU plots new course for language programs

September 25, 2013 2:30PM

Although Pittsburg State University remains “committed to foreign language and culture as an important part of the university,” the decision has been made to phase out the university’s bachelor of arts degree programs in Spanish and French, according to Dr. Lynette Olson, PSU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Olson said the decision was based on a lengthy program review process and a recommendation from the Program Review Committee that highlighted continuing low numbers of students either seeking or completing those two degrees.

Students already enrolled in the Spanish and French BA programs will be allowed to finish those degrees, Olson said, but no additional students will be allowed to declare a major in either.

Karl Kunkel, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said Spanish, French and other languages will continue to be taught at PSU and he will work with faculty in the Department of Modern Languages and Literature to chart a course for the future of language instruction at the university.

“Foreign languages and culture are important to the university and central to a well-rounded academic experience,” Kunkel said. “There are a number of options for the university to consider as we plan for the future. We will work on that together.”

Program review is a periodic, comprehensive self-assessment process that all academic programs on campus undergo on a rotating basis. It is designed to enhance overall institutional quality and accountability. Program review is the one major opportunity that departments have to conduct a comprehensive self-study in order to demonstrate that their programs are current, of sufficient size and quality, and help the institution serve its mission. The Program Review Committee is composed of faculty and administrators from across campus.

Kunkel said that as early as 2009, the BA programs in Spanish and French were having difficulty reaching the minimum enrollment or completion numbers set by the Kansas Board of Regents.

Those standards, Kunkel said, can force universities to make some difficult decisions.

“Public universities have an obligation to be good stewards of taxpayer's money and the resources entrusted to us," Kunkel said, "we need to search for the best way to offer programs enhancing and promoting student success, and we use these principles as guidelines when determining the best method for offering foreign language instruction, credentials, and opportunities on our campus."

©2013 Pittsburg State University