French and Spanish programs to merge into romance language major

The name change is a result of program cuts earlier this year.

MU is combining the French and Spanish major programs into a single romance language major.

The change is the result of a survey conducted by the Missouri Department of Higher Education in order to cut "low-producing" programs.

"The governor had a higher education summit back in August and one of his goals of the summit was to make the delivery of higher education a little more efficient," MDHE spokeswoman Kathy Love said. "There was a thought that many of the programs were duplicative and had low enrollment."

Love said programs that did not produce a certain number of graduates were not considered efficient.

"I think it was 10 graduates per year over a five-year average to maintain a program," she said. "Any less than that was considered not an efficient use of state resources."

According to the report by MDHE, on average from 2008-2010, there were 1.3 master's degrees in French and 3.3 in Spanish. Love said many of the "low-producing" programs were in language departments.

Department of Romance Languages and Literatures Chairwoman Flore Zéphir said that there would be no change in the program besides the name.

"The languages are not being combined to one major," she said. "We're going to keep our major in French, in Spanish and then we would have our minors in Portuguese and Italian like we always have. There is no change."

Students will not be required to learn both languages in order to earn the degree. They will choose an emphasis area within the romance languages department.

"We are renaming it romance language with an emphasis in French, with an emphasis in Spanish, but it's the equivalent of the same thing that we have except we will call it Romance Language to be on par with the doctorate program that we have," Zéphir said.

Zéphir said students in the current doctorate program receive a Ph.D. with an emphasis in either Spanish or French.

General education requirements will not change within the program.

"Whatever the College of Arts and Science requires will be exactly the same," Zéphir said. "Someone wanting to do a French major would take 30 hours beyond the elementary level, which has always been the case; someone wanting to major in Spanish will take 30 hours beyond the elementary Spanish level as has always been the case."

Graduate student Louise Allen received an undergraduate degree in French from MU. In earning a degree in French, she took classes mostly in French literature and language.

"Overall I thought the program was good for what it offered, but I would love to see more options outside of literature classes," she said in an email. "Courses to study culture, history and so on would be a great complement to the literature and would make a more well-rounded knowledge base for the degree."

Allen said that the program did not appear to be low-producing.

"I don't know about the numbers for how many major, but it seems to me that there are in fact quite a few that major in it," she said. "True, it's not a big as Spanish, but that seems natural in this society."

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