West Virginia University No Longer Eliminating World Languages Department

Following campus protests and outrage, the university issued new recommendations to combat its $45 million budget shortfall.
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Published on September 1, 2023
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  • Earlier this month, West Virginia University proposed eliminating its world languages department to combat budget shortfalls.
  • Students and faculty held a campus protest in response, calling for a pause on the proposed reductions until an independent audit of the institution's finances is conducted.
  • Now, WVU is proposing to only eliminate world languages as a major and master's program but still offer two language courses as electives.

The Office of the Provost at West Virginia University (WVU) is walking back some of its proposed program cuts just one week after students and faculty walked out in protest.

On Aug. 11, the institution announced that in the face of its $45 million budget deficit, it may discontinue 32 majors and reduce 7% of its faculty, including eliminating its entire world languages department.

At the time, the institution cited declining enrollment as the primary reason certain programs were chosen for proposed elimination.

Now, WVU officials have issued a final set of recommendations to combat their budget shortfall which would still eliminate foreign language majors and master's degree programs but will continue to offer language courses in Spanish and Chinese as electives or minors.

"We listened to our students' feedback and have provided an option for face-to-face language instruction," said WVU's Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed in a press release.

"This final recommendation will allow students to take language courses as electives and potentially as minors. This will also support our students pursuing prestigious scholarships and membership in honorary organizations such as Phi Beta Kappa. We feel this recommendation addresses the continued enrollment decline while serving the needs of our students."

The institution chose to continue offering Spanish and Chinese courses due to them being high-demand and critical-need languages, respectively.

Despite moving forward with further eliminations to language offerings, Reed also states that WVU will seek to offer additional language learning opportunities through curriculum partnerships with other universities and by enhancing its study abroad program so students can learn languages through immersive experiences.

Though these recommendations are final, program cuts are not yet official until the institution's Board of Governors holds a vote on Sept. 15. The board will hear public comments of opposition and support from those who have signed up or submitted their comments in writing in advance on Sept. 14.