The Western Kentucky University Board of Regents will be asked Friday to approve majors and minors in Arabic and Chinese.
The regents' academic affairs committee has already approved the new programs.
The board will meet at 8 a.m. at the Mass Media & Technology Hall and then go to the Sloan Convention Center for a Hall of Distinguished Alumni installation ceremony at 11:30 a.m.
The proposed Arabic major and minor would help WKU keep pace with other institutions. Nationwide enrollments in Arabic have increased faster than any other language, according to the Modern Language Association. Chinese is the second-fastest growing language, the association said. Both the Arabic and Chinese programs would be delivered through the Modern Languages Department in the WKU Potter College of Arts and Letters.
Total enrollment in Arabic courses in the fall of 2012 at WKU climbed to 116, up from 73 the previous year and up from 26 in the fall of 2010, according to information provided to regents. Arabic is the fifth-most commonly spoken language in the world, with nearly 300 million speakers, and the need for professionals with a working language of Arabic has increased since 2000.
In 2011-12, 23 schools in southcentral Kentucky offered Chinese to 4,800 students through WKU's Confucius Institute.
Of the 23, eight were high schools with 380 students taking Chinese five times a week, with 60 of them enrolled in WKU dual-credit Chinese classes in 2011. That number has grown, the academic affairs committee was told. This year, 33 teachers came to the region serving 10,000 students, and 11 high schools are offering WKU dual-credit Chinese.
The demand for trained language experts at the postsecondary education level is expected to grow 14 percent to 19 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Both WKU programs would begin in the spring.
In another matter, the regents will consider approval of the Department of Psychological Sciences in the Ogden College of Science and Engineering. The new department would be established Nov. 1 and was previously approved by the academic affairs committee.
The regents will also be asked to approve an employment agreement for general counsel Deborah T. Wilkins. The regents' executive committee has already approved the agreement. The contract calls for Wilkins to receive $142,272 from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2017. The term of employment is not to extend past June 30, 2022, according to the contract.
The board will swear in new Regent Gillard B. Johnson of Nicholasville and honor outgoing Regent Jim Johnson of Bowling Green, who served as a regent from July 2007 until July.