Language department reduces program offerings 

Bar Rozenhaimer | Staff Writer 

Westminster Hall, Oct. 2, 2023, at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash. | Caleb Flegel/The Whitworthian

Due to the Whitworth University’s recent budgetary developments, the College of Arts and Science’s language department has been forced to reduce its program and course offerings. 

Whitworth is an “enrollment dependent” institution of higher education, meaning its “budget is built off of a certain number of students attending the university,” said John Pell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Recently, a decline in the number of students enrolled and the number of credits they are coming in with has affected the budget of the school.  

While the effect of enrollment decline on university finances is pretty straightforward, the effect of student’s acquired college credits from high school is more complex. “Historically, budgets were built around the idea of a student coming for four years,” said Pell. “[Now] we have more and more students across every university across the country coming in with more and more credits, […] so the budget model itself for universities is changing”. Now that students are coming in with a lot of their introductory and required credits, they no longer need to stay for the full four years. 

In light of this, the university tasked each school (College of Arts and Sciences, Business, etc.) with finding ways to address the budgetary issues and ideally achieve a neutral budget by 2025. One of the steps the College of Arts and Sciences is taking is to eliminate some of its offerings in the language department. 

According to Jennifer Brown, chair of the world languages and cultures program, the diminishing of offerings stems from the larger trend of eliminating adjunct instructors. The college wants to retain its full-time faculty, so it is cutting those adjuncts that teach under-enrolled classes here and there. “What we would really like to see is to have full time faculty teaching […] so that students really get to engage with our wonderful faculty,” said Brown.

The programs that face changes are French, Chinese, Japanese and German language. The Spanish major is projected to still be offered in its current form. 

French has already been changed from a major/minor offering to a “French Studies” program, where students are instructed in elementary French and then take cultural classes in English. 

Chinese is projected to be eliminated due to difficulty filling classes. Brown said that only three students signed up this semester. 

Unlike Chinese, Brown said that the introductory Japanese classes the university offers always fill up. “Japanese 101 and 102 are always full. They’re always at 20 students. Sometimes there’s a waitlist. We serve our Hawaiian students with that class really well. We serve other students who are just kind of interested in Japanese culture. They want to travel to Japan. They’ve seen anime. They’re interested in Japanese food. […] So we’re not necessarily cutting all of those classes,” said Brown.

Whitworth’s German minor has students take introduction classes at Whitworth and the rest at Gonzaga University through a contract Whitworth has with Gonzaga. The introductory classes at Whitworth may be cut, which would lead to the removal of the minor.

There have been some concerns whether these cuts will affect students already majoring or minoring in said programs. But “[The university is] contractually required to accommodate students who’ve chosen a major,” said Brown. “If students had already declared a French major, we’re making sure that they can complete that before they graduate. […] We’re doing that through various kinds of accommodations, substitutions or independent studies, so everyone’s taken care of.”

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