At Concordia, language studies take a hit

What puts the “arts” in liberal arts?

Foreign language, some grads and students at Moorhead’s Concordia College insist, and many of them are upset that the school is cutting back on the classical languages, French, German and Norwegian/Scandinavian Studies.

Norwegian is out altogether because there was only one professor, who is being cut. The other languages will still be taught, but not in abundance enough to allow majors.

“What we’ve seen is a marked drop in students interested in electing these programs as majors,” Concordia President William Craft tells the Star Tribune. He said only 38 students on the campus of 2,100 are in the majors he’s eliminating.

“I would suggest that these programs are more popular than one might think,” counters Jonathan Clark, a professor of German at the school.

In a letter to the Fargo Forum, which first reported the cuts, Clark says the languages “are also what makes Concordia unique and a truly liberal arts institution.”

My colleagues who recently have been given notice deserve to be recognized for all that languages have done and continue to do for Concordia in addition to teaching (often overloads) and scholarship: the MA program in Foreign Language Education, online courses (less for our sake and more for the college), teaching in the core, the first year research seminar, the college honor’s program, team taught interdisciplinary courses, film courses that feed into the film minor, environmental studies courses, women’s studies courses, arranging internships for our many students and developing abroad programs which, while benefiting our students, do nothing to enrich the faculty.

They support the community by having students teach foreign languages in elementary schools, by organizing fairs and festivals, by assisting at Language Village events for high schoolers and adults, by supporting cultural organizations, by visiting the elderly, by translating without cost documents in various languages, and by playing music in cafés.

Last April, Concordia cut 5 percent of its workforce. It hopes to save $2.7 million with the recent elimination of programs.