Truman foreign language offerings to change

Truman State University’s Classical and Modern Languages Department has officially proposed a new major to consolidate four of its current offerings.

French, German, Russian and Spanish majors will be moved under one umbrella major, a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Language, with specializations offered in Spanish, French, German and Russian.

Department chair Lucy Lee said the change followed the department’s last five-year review when the faculty realized each review underscored the commonalities between the various modern language majors and reinforced the benefits of combining the majors.

Lee said most of the languages had similar co-curricular and course objectives, so they took in the idea of consolidating the languages to make the department more structurally efficient.

“It has been approved with no opposition by governance, by both [Undergraduate Council] and Faculty Senate,” Lee said. “The next step is for it to go before the Board of Governors in February. Then it will go to the [Coordinating Board for Higher Education] for approval.”

Lee said she expects no pushback from the Board of Governors, and she expects the major to be ready for next fall.

The Missouri Department of Higher Education has passed similar proposals with other universities that are also consolidating their language departments, Lee said.

“We believe we are going to better serve our students this way and that everyone is gaining with this new approach,” Lee said. “So for that reason, we combined all of the modern languages majors, except for Romance language.”

The department will be no longer offer the Romance language major. Lee said this is because the major favored breadth over depth, and most Romance language students could not achieve advanced proficiency in the languages of that major.

Closing the Romance language major was supported unanimously by the department faculty, UGC and Faculty Senate, Lee said.

Lee said the department would better serve its students by having a Digital Badge of Advanced Study in Romance Language instead, which requires a double major in two Romance languages or a major in a Romance language and a minor in a Romance language plus a Romance language linguistics course. Lee also said the digital badge will better prepare students for the job market and graduate school than the Romance language major.

Jack Davis, the German program coordinator, said the new modern language major will be more uniform than the old language majors were.

Davis said the consolidation will allow them to streamline part of the administration process when it comes to program reviews and other departmental regulations.

“This is actually a typical strategy that colleges across the country have done and is actually more of the norm now than the exception,” Davis said. “If you look around the country, especially at institutions of our size, almost all of them have a consolidated language major of some sort. They often call it ‘modern languages’ or ‘foreign languages,’ depending on the individual institutional circumstances.”

Davis said he thinks this change will affect students minimally, but he sees it as a positive step for the department as a whole.

Spanish professor Danion Doman said the new major will have no negative effects on students because it is such a small change. He said one of the only changes he foresees from the consolidation is the way the degree looks on the transcript.

Rachel Becker is a freshman Staff Writer at Truman State University.