Fribourg - French and German majors

Support French and German Majors at Hartwick College!

Update June 2016: Thank you for your support of the French and German majors! Due to your support, in May 2016 the Hartwick College administration and Board did not consider discontinuing the French major. With regard to the German major, a poll of the faculty will be held and a decision made in October 2016. Please see this Academic Program Review Recommendations page for more details.


On 7 March 2016, the Hartwick College faculty voted overwhelmingly that we “affirm the value of the French and German majors to the Hartwick College curriculum” (48-yes, 8-no, 4-abstain). The French and German majors have a deep history and tradition at Hartwick, and they have been the inspiration of some of Hartwick’s best January Term programs abroad. In 2015-2016, Modern Languages faculty built on these strengths to propose an innovative Global Studies program, the first new major to be approved by the Hartwick faculty in over a decade. The French and German majors are undoubtedly in need of support and revitalization: Hartwick faculty consider them an essential part of our liberal arts curriculum and a critical ingredient to the success of the new Global Studies program.

The Hartwick College faculty felt it was necessary to vote to affirm and maintain the French and German majors because the announced recommendations from the Academic Program Review state that these majors would be eliminated for incoming students as of fall 2016. In accord with the principles of faculty governance over the curriculum, the faculty have evaluated these recommendations. On this point we disagree. We have no plans to eliminate the French and German majors.

As the Chair of the Faculty, I have conveyed the text of this vote to President Drugovich, with the request that it be forwarded to the full Board of Trustees, who would ultimately be responsible for votes to add or eliminate academic majors. The French and German majors were purportedly to be eliminated under the pretense of saving resources or resource reallocation. However, an analysis of potential resource savings, conducted by the Department of Modern Languages, has determined that there are effectively no resource savings from eliminating these majors. Eliminating the French major does not save any resources since the coursework is still necessary for language requirements and for the new Global Studies program. Eliminating the German major might eventually result in a meager savings, although that savings is offset by the damage to academic reputation, lack of viability for Global Studies, and possibly condemning the proposed Public Health program to defeat because it has now been linked to reducing our foreign language offerings. This resource analysis was also forwarded to President Drugovich so that it can be considered by the full Board of Trustees.

French and German Majors: What can you do?

Adam Doboze, French and German MajorsWe encourage all members of the Hartwick College community to share their thoughts on these matters. Please send an e-mail to express your opinion. If you agree with the faculty vote to affirm and maintain the French and German majors, there are other actions you can take:

  • Hartwick faculty, staff, and students can sign up for language instruction. See the Hartwick College course offerings to sign up!
  • Hartwick students can declare a French or German major or minor. If you are a heritage speaker, had high school instruction, or off-campus experience, you might be closer than you think!
  • Please consider sharing this post using social media or e-mail.

French, German, and Global Studies

Casey Mullaney, French and German MajorsAs noted, we are currently configuring a Global Studies program, primarily coordinated through the Department of Modern Languages. The Global Studies major depends on instruction in languages other than English. French and German are global languages, as is evident from their landing pages on the new website:

More than 220 million people currently speak French on five continents. French is the second most widely learned language and the sixth most widely spoken language in the world. It’s also one of the only languages, along with English, that’s taught in every country in the world. (French Major & Minor)

Students have the opportunity for immersion in Austrian culture and the German language through Hartwick’s January Term study-abroad program in Vienna. Hartwick has also established a student exchange with the University of Fribourg (Switzerland), where students can study for a semester or longer in a wide variety of disciplines taught in German. (German Major & Minor; moreover, Institutional Advancement remarks that the January 2016 write-up on Professor Frye as the “Father of J Term” was the single most successful social media hit they have ever seen)

I could continue, citing the value of a French major in relationship to a proposed Peace Corps prep certificate program at Hartwick College, or stressing the importance of the German language in global business. The point is–what really is the benefit from eliminating these language majors now? How much do we lose with such little evidence of gain?

I urge you to stand with the Hartwick College faculty in affirming the value of the French and German majors.


Photo Credits: Thanks to Mark Wolff for the featured image of Fribourg, Switzerland and for sharing the picture of Adam Doboze (Hartwick 2008 French and Spanish major). Many thanks to Casey Mullaney for sharing a picture from her time in Mali. Mullaney completed her French major from Hartwick in 2010, with a thesis on urban agriculture in Bamako. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Theology at Notre Dame.

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