Department loses professors, classes

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April 6, 2007

3:41 PM

__Upper-level Chinese classes drop for fall 2007__

After courses for fall 2007 were displayed on Banner, students noticed a lack of upper-level Chinese courses, a situation caused in part by low funding and a small number of professors.

p. When classes first appeared on Banner, only 40 spots existed in the 200-level Chinese language course, but that number has since been raised to 60 available spots. There are currently 85 students enrolled in the 100-level Chinese language course. Despite the late addition of spots, 25 students will potentially be unable to continue studying Chinese. The department has expressed hope that this discrepancy will be mitigated by students leaving to study abroad.

p. In addition to basic language classes, there is high student demand for higher-level courses.

p. “While language is the emphasis of the department, it makes no sense to be able to communicate in China without understanding the context, culture and history of the country,” senior Helen Wong, president of the Chinese Student Organization, said.William and Mary provides a very holistic education, but faculty shortages definitely are limiting that multi-pronged approach for students interested in Chinese department courses.”

p. This shortage comes at a time when Chinese is an increasingly important language in the global arena. China’s importance has skyrocketed due to rapid economic development, huge population growth and rising power in international relations.

p. “Given China’s growing economic might and size, there has been a surge in student interest in courses relating to China. Large numbers of our students want to enroll in our language courses and participate in our study abroad programs in China,” Dean of Undergraduate Studies Edward Pratt said.

p. This rising interest creates a crucial need for faculty in the Chinese Department.

p. “There are enrollment pressures in several of the languages offered in the department of modern languages and literatures, as well as in other departments across campus. We hope to add new faculty lines when funding becomes available,” Pratt said.

p. The Chinese Department is looking for two new instructors because a tenured faculty member will be on leave next year, and a full-time instructor will be moving to another school.

p. Last fall, Student Assembly Sen. Will Coggin, a senior, introduced a referendum to channel funds toward a new Chinese professor.

p. The referendum was successful in reaching a majority of student support, but the actual funds have not yet been allocated. The funds would be taken from the Student Activities budget.

p. “Still, I think it raised awareness of the shortage, and that’s an important effort for underclassmen to carry on,” Wong said. “If we continue vocalizing the issue, I believe that the administration will eventually realize the importance of allocating resources to strengthen the Chinese department,” Wong said.

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