Demand for Arabic courses at the University of Cincinnati has doubled over the last five years, leading the region's largest university to start a degree program in Arabic this fall.
UC trustees are expected to approve the program Tuesday, although the program will still requires state approval. It would be the only Arabic studies bachelor's degree program in the region.
UC has offered Arabic language courses since 2005 and a certificate since 2008, with 484 students in 2011.
"The strategic importance of the Arabic world has made Arabic a critical language for the U.S. government and military, creating a demand for its speakers and incentives for its learners," UC officials wrote in documents prepared for trustees.
Miami University offers a minor in Arabic, while Xavier University and Northern Kentucky University offer individual courses. Ohio State University offers a full range of Arabic degree programs.
The UC degree program would include not just language, but classes studying Arab history and cultures. It would not require any new professors in the first year.
Trustees also are expected to approve a change in the spending policy from the biggest pool of its endowment, which totals about $745 million.
UC would reduce the amount spent on operations to 4.5 percent from its current 5 percent over the next two years.
That will take away $1.5 million next year and $3.8 million the following year from the operating budget.
UC said the operating spending, plus development fees for projects in the neighborhoods surrounding UC's main campus, have exceeded investment returns.
It also will exclude those development loans and real estate assets from the spending policy calculation, meaning the operating subsidy will be calculated from a smaller base.
"Given current market conditions, the most probably outcome is that maintaining the current spending policy will continue to erode the endowment, severly impacting its ability to generate funding in future years," UC officials wrote