CARS Report

Despite a glowing report, the academic review board at Brandeis University has decided that Classics is not important enough to justify a full department, nor enough to keep the faculty level even if divided among other departments. The text of the report follows.

“Classical Studies (Classics) is a vibrant, small department that consists of four full-time faculty members who each teach a variety of courses, including frequent overloads. They offer a wide range of courses in languages, literature, art, archaeology, philosophy, history, religion, and mythology. Classics has developed initiatives with Theater Arts, Fine Arts, Anthropology and other departments.

The prize winning faculty of Classics (all four members of the department have been honored, whether by the profession at large or at Brandeis for teaching) are interdisciplinary at the core, much like NEJS, AMST, and AAAS, but their overarching focus is to, in the words of one of its members, “preserve and study the roots of western civilization.” Unlike those other departments, however, each of the members of the department is interdisciplinary and teaches in several of these different areas. At the last BOT meeting in March a new, revenue-generating MA in Greek and Roman Studies was approved; this will target teachers of Latin and Greek in the Boston area. They already mount a successful outreach program, as well as a certificate program.

Classics offers some courses with high enrollments. They graduate approximately 8 majors per year. They teach over 300 students per year. Thus the small classes are compensated for by some larger ones. They have offered approximately three USEMs per year.

This department satisfies, amply and with distinction, most all of criteria that CARS has sought to apply to its deliberations. Classics contributes to multiple missions, to the undergraduate experience, to the general excellence of the university. Moreover, its discipline is essential to a university of our caliber. Its programs are distinctive and synergistic. However, it is clear to the committee that its organizational structure is not optimal, since a separate department of four is exceedingly small, and some important decisions must be made with committees that are enlarged by the Dean.

We therefore suggest that the Classics faculty, while keeping its excellent majors and minors intact, join another department or departments. Its major would continue to exist, although CARS suggests that it could become an even more broadly conceived program in Classical and Ancient Studies. Although no such move can be perfect, we could imagine them joining, together or individually, NEJS, ROMS, GRALL, Philosophy or Anthropology, or some other
department(s) of their choice. This decision should be made by the members of department in consultation with the Dean and with relevant faculty in other departments. We also recommend
that, over time, the faculty devoted to Classics be reduced from 4 to 3. We believe that their previous, heroic, USEM contribution of 3 courses per year in fact shows that they could continue to mount their distinctive program with one fewer faculty member. The committee recognizes the irony of this reward for a sterling contribution. But with a genuine need to reduce faculty, we are forced to come to this recommendation. We hope this reduction will occur either through
retirement or departure.

– Transform Classics from a department to an interdepartmental program and assign the
faculty to another department or departments
– Admit students to the new MA program
– Consider broadening the major still further with a possible new name such as Classical and Ancient Studies
– Reduce faculty from 4 to 3 over time with carefully managed retirements and departures”

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