Academic Senate Recommends keeping Russian B.A.
November 30, 2004 9:26 PM
The Academic Senate voted 26 – 21, with one senator abstaining, to recommend that SF State keep the BA in Russian during their November 30 meeting.
Katerina Siskron, director of the Russian program stated shortly after the Educational Policies Committee recommended to discontinue the bachelor's in Russian, that she had confidence in the Academic Senate’s ability to look beyond the numbers and at the Russian program comprehensively and academically. She attended Tuesday’s meeting with her “heart in palm.”
About 20 students from SF State and City College of San Francisco held up a white banner with red and blue lettering: “CCSF Students say: Please save the Russian Major.”
Their hopes were answered as supporters in the Senate spent much of their time discussing the quality of the degree -- not focusing solely on the number of students enrolled in it.
Humanities professor Saul Steier, who voted in favor of the Russian program, said, “constituency for the Russian program is getting larger and larger and larger… [The] market value shouldn’t determine what the university offers.”
SF State Foreign Language chair Midori McKeon, who opened the debate with a 10-minute speech discussing the benefits of the Russian bachelor's, said, “Our Russian program is a dynamic program that continues to offer innovative new courses even under the threat of discontinuance.” Despite the lack of tenured faculty, “Teacher evaluations are all within the range of excellent, including a perfect 1.0,” McKeon said.
Several, including Siskron and McKeon, argued that if the Russian program had been reduced to a minor, CCSF transfers would not have courses available to them that had been available prior to transferring to SF State.
SF State’s Russian program is the “crown jewel of Russian programs within the CSU system” according to Marjorie Gelus, chair of the Department of Foreign Language at Sacramento State University. In addition, SF State's Russian program has a much higher rapport than San Diego State University's -- the only other Russian bachelor in the California State University System.
Despite EPC arguments that there aren’t enough students in the Russian degree to sustain it, enrollment in Russian courses are up 20 percent from the 2002 levels, McKeon said.
Not everyone was in support of saving the Russian program.
David Abella, Associated Student President, said during the debate, “My unscientific polls say that students need more English 214 and 414 classes. I have not heard from students that this [Russian] program is a priority.”
Humanities Dean Paul Sherwin maintains that in order for the bachelor's to flourish, two tenured faculty members will need to be hired, at a yearly cost of at least $100,000 each. Sherwin said that he does not see a significant number of students who take introductory Russian language classes moving on to advanced Russian language courses.
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