One month after College of Liberal Arts Dean Randy Diehl eliminated a proposal to restructure the school's foreign language requirements, several language departments are still considering similar changes.
Pending the approval of the registrar and several faculty committees, the Spanish department will reduce the number of required semesters from four to three. Each class will be worth six hours, which actually increases the number of mandatory credit hours to 18.
"By reducing the number of semesters required to meet the language requirement from four to three, we reduce the total number of sections and thereby accommodate the budget reductions," said Spanish department chairman Nicolas Shumway. "But by increasing the number of classroom contact hours, we actually strengthen the program."
Shumway said the new program will not degrade the quality of instruction, which was a concern about earlier suggestions.
In the original proposal, the number of required language hours would have dropped from 16 to 12. The requirement could have been fulfilled with two six-hour classes or one six-hour and two three-hour classes. Faculty members overwhelmingly disapproved of the changes at an open forum, and Diehl dropped the plan the next day.
The changes were suggested in order to save money to fund targeted merit pay increases for faculty and the new liberal arts building. The college needs to reallocate between $10 and $13 million.
Introductory and intermediate Spanish courses will be taught on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and each section will last two hours with a possible break. The department currently offers two-hour class blocks during the summer session.
Bilingual education junior Petra Ocampo tested out of the first three levels of Spanish and is currently enrolled in SPN 312L. She said two hours sounded too long for a normal class period, but the increased number of required hours seems like a good idea.
"I have a test on Monday, and I'm a little worried that I won't be able to finish it in 50 minutes," Ocampo said. "It would definitely be easier with two hours."
Ocampo said it would be better to only have class three days a week because it gives students a chance to catch up on assignments.
The new course sequence will begin in Fall 2010 but will not go into effect until Spring 2011. Students who are enrolled under the current sequence will have enough time to finish.
Shumway said the new structure will also be more conducive to allowing students to study abroad. Study abroad options currently begin with third-semester Spanish, but the new program will encourage students to travel during their second semester.
"We think that we've taken a bad situation and turned it to everyone's advantage," Shumway said. "We are very enthusiastic about the new plan and hope that everyone will see its advantages."
The Middle Eastern Studies department, which handles Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Turkish instruction, will switch to an intensive language program. Students can fulfill their language requirements in two semesters by taking two six-hour classes.
The classes will be five days a week and will demand an extensive out-of-class time commitment on the students' part.
Anyone who wants to continue will be eligible to enroll in upper-division courses.
"Our goal is for our students to reach the intermediate level of proficiency at the end of the first year of instruction," said Esther Raizen, Middle Eastern Studies department chairwoman. "Our plan allows for us to accomplish our goals for the year within the allocated budget."