Deep cuts at UVM

UVM may not be a very happy place next year.

“On December 2, the University of Vermont announced cuts to twenty-four majors, twenty-seven minors, and four master’s programs in its College of Arts and Sciences. The geology, classics, and religion departments will be closed. Others will be consolidated, likely after cuts to faculty and programming. The German and Italian majors will go. The program in Vermont studies will be cut, along with the university’s master’s program in historic preservation. In all, twelve of the college’s fifty-six majors, eleven of its sixty-three minors, and four of its ten master’s degree programs will be eliminated…”

New York Review of Books,
mid December 2020

They’ve already started some layoffs of senior lecturers.

This Boston Globe article discusses the challenges encountered by Vermont colleges in general during recent years:

Thank you, I appreciate this bigger picture.

I live in Burlington and my wife is a prof at UVM. On the surface these cuts seem like a big deal, but the number of faculty and students impacted is quite small. It has been reported that most (if not all) of the majors they are cutting graduate fewer than five students a year. Several programs on the chopping block (like Vermont Studies) are not real academic units, but rather “do-it-yourself” majors comprised of courses from several departments. Some departments may in fact be dissolved (classics, religion), but their faculty will be absorbed by other departments, like history or sociology. So while no one likes to see cuts to any academic program, these changes shouldn’t have much impact on most incoming freshmen at UVM.

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This makes me sad because I frequently get into debates (on CC and real life)about how Classics is such an “elitist” major because you need to be at U Chicago, Harvard, etc. to major in it, or the “elite” publics like Berkeley. And I always point out the public flagships which have actual Classics departments (and not just a couple of Classical studies courses as part of the history department).

No, studying antiquity isn’t as popular as (fill in the blank). But we do lose something as a society when learning from the past is ignored as both an academic and social discipline. There have been so many misguided attempts to explain what happened at the Capitol for example- as if this was the first time in history that something like this has happened. (not engaging in a political debate- but pointing out that if you don’t understand the tension- thousands of years old- between the populace and the ruling elites, however defined or perceived- your understanding of current events is likely limited).

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Even small colleges may offer concentrations in fields such as classics, religious studies and geology/geosciences. Cuts to these disciplines at UVM, while obviously significant to prospective students who might have majored in these fields, also appear, as discussed above, to impact any student who would like to study liberally as undergraduate.

The president of UVM is facing some backlash over the cuts:

A tactic used over a couple of decades by insiders to increase odds of admission to one of the nation’s most prestigious schools was to apply as a classics major since the department desperately needed students.