NYT Debate: Do Colleges Need French Departments?

Ashley Thorne

In light of SUNY-Albany's cuts to its foreign language programs, the New York Times asked eight higher ed experts, "Do colleges need French departments?" Heres a takeaway sentence from each one. (See also this SUNY-Albany professor's remarks on the language cuts, posted at NAS.org.)

Martha Nussbaum, author of Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities: "Even if a nation’s only goal were economic prosperity, the humanities supply essential ingredients for a healthy business culture."

Louis Menand, author of The Marketplace of Ideas: "The loss of any department is a loss to every department at that institution."

John McWhorter, author of Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English: "I believe we should reconsider having vocational tracks like those in European educational systems."

Mark Bauerlein, English professor at Emory University: "Lose [the humanities] and the college produces a half-educated graduate."

Ellen Schrecker, author of The Lost Soul of Higher Education: "Languages, literature, philosophy, history – by exposing students to a wide range of new and old ideas and allowing them to articulate their own responses to those ideas – can create the reflective and self-aware citizens our nation needs."

Gaye Tuchman, sociology professor at the University of Connecticut: "No one put a price tag on either the appeal or utility of Latin, of reading Racine or Confucius, or of learning the structure of a symphony."

Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity: "As resources tighten and that luxury no longer is available, universities need to do what businesses routinely do – reinvent what they do to meet the changing needs of society."

Anne E. McCall, professor of French at the University of Denver: "That said, the attraction of particular subjects does shift, and universities need to adjust offerings that make sense for their mission, size, geographical location, and budgets."

  • Share

Most Commented

October 31, 2023


University of Washington Violated Non-Discrimination Policy, Internal Report Finds

A faculty hiring committee at the University of Washington “inappropriately considered candidates’ races when determining the order of offers,” provided “disparate op......

January 24, 2024


After Claudine

The idea has caught on that the radical left overplayed its hand in DEI and is now vulnerable to those of us who seek major reforms. This is not, however, the first time that the a......

December 9, 2023


The Presidents and Academic Freedom

What are the boundaries of “free speech?” They are pretty much the same as the boundaries of civilization. Savages need not apply....

Most Read

May 15, 2015


Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 12, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...

September 21, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What Does YHWH Elohim Mean?

A reader asks, "If Elohim refers to multiple 'gods,' then Yhwh Elohim really means Lord of Gods...the one of many, right?" A Hebrew expert answers....