In a letter sent to Gordon Gee, the president of West Virginia University, on 11 August, the MLA’s executive director, Paula M. Krebs, responded to the recently proposed cuts at West Virginia University, including the elimination of the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics. Krebs noted that the kinds of cuts to the humanities proposed by West Virginia University were unprecedented for a state flagship university and would “dramatically narrow educational opportunities” for all students, not just those in the humanities.
“All students’ job prospects and lives are enriched by language study, writing instruction, and the research and analytical skills taught in beginning and advanced literature and culture courses,” wrote Krebs. “Access to these courses is especially important in public higher education, which is often the only route to a degree for many state residents.” Beyond providing vital skills, the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics and the Department of English generate substantial tuition revenue for the university beyond their expenses, which undermines arguments that cite budgetary issues as a reason for the cuts.
The university’s appeals process runs through mid-September, when the board of governors will vote on the proposed cuts.