Philosophy under threat at St. Mary’s College

The administration of St. Mary’s College of Maryland is considering cutting philosophy programs from the school.

The attack on the philosophy program, hosted in the college Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, may result in the elimination of the major and minor in philosophy, the reduction or elimination of philosophy courses and the termination of the teaching staff.

St. Mary’s College, Maryland promotes itself as the “National Public Honors College” which “provides undergraduate liberal arts training and small college experience like those found in outstanding private colleges.” This will cease to be true if he eliminates his philosophy programs.

A letter that the faculty of the department sent to the affected students and alumni explains what happened:

Dear students and alumni of philosophy and religious sciences,

We, the faculty of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, are writing to answer questions that many of you have asked over the past week about the future of our department, and to rectify some misinformation that has may have arrived in your inbox. President Jordan called on all professors to work to correct this misinformation. We write this letter to minimize the risk of typing or speaking badly and getting lost or missing something important. It is therefore in the interest of honoring both the importance of your concerns, the value of accuracy, and the urgency of the situation that we present this to you.

Last year, the Board of Trustees (BoT) created three working groups made up of board members, administration and faculty, with the aim of making recommendations to ensure the College is on a stable financial base so that it can become, in President Jordan’s words, “a 21stliberal arts university of the century.

A working group gathered proposals from faculty for new programs and subsequently recommended four new specialties: neuroscience, marine science, applied data science, and business administration.

A second working group classified current SMCM programs into three categories (A / B / C) of “effectiveness, efficiency and equity”, using quantitative data. We objected to the particular framing of these metrics and the reductive nature of the global approach, and supplemented this data with qualitative accounts requested from all our majors who graduated during a recent three-year period. .

A third working group reported to President Jordan this month and recommended action based on those rankings, including recommending that C-level programs be considered for elimination.

C-level programs include Philosophy and Religious Studies programs.

It is important to note that no final decision has yet been made. However, the trajectory of the process is of deep concern. The timeline for such decisions is that the rector / dean of the faculty, Dr Michael Wick, will submit his recommendations to President Jordan by January 18. President Jordan will then submit his recommendations to the Board of Directors in February, ahead of their meeting. scheduled for February 6.

Provost Wick and President Jordan met with each of the College’s 34 programs to share the task force’s recommendation for each program and to hear responses from faculty members. The administration does not take the matter lightly and realizes the seriousness of its future decisions, both for the future “range of programs” of the College and for the future of the staff of the eliminated programs.

Q: If the programs (i.e. majors and minors) in Philosophy and Religious Studies are cut, does that mean that prospective students will not be able to take courses in these areas?
A: It is possible that some courses will continue to be offered without a major or minor. While these are probably mostly – perhaps exclusively – lower-level courses, they can be important experiences for the students who take them.

Q: If the Philosophy and Religious Studies programs are cut, does that mean that current students will not be able to complete their majors?
A: The College is committed to ensuring that all current students are able to graduate in their major and on time.

Q: If the programs are deleted, does that mean the faculty will be deleted as well?
A: While the final decision has yet to be made, the termination of some (or even most) faculty positions is a real possibility, although not all faculty currently with these programs are necessarily phased out. . It is only after the board of directors has made the final decision on the future range of programs that the administration will decide what the remaining educational needs will be.

Q: Are we in the relevant philosophy and religious studies department?
A: Yes. We care deeply about St. Mary’s and therefore are concerned, like everyone else in this process (BoT, administration, faculty, staff, SGA), about the future direction of the College and the opportunities for our students. We believe that the loss of our programs would signal a fundamental change in the soul of the college and we do not believe that St. Mary’s can be a great “21st century liberal arts college” without a strong commitment to our disciplines. So, it is important to us that the students and alumni, whom we have so joyfully served and continue to serve, have no misconceptions about the decisions already made and the timing of decisions to come.

If you have any other questions or comments you would like to offer, the Office of the Provost, Dr. Michael Wick, will convene ongoing deliberations and discussions, until their recommendations are submitted to President Jordan by the 18th. January. He and President Jordan are also planning a platform for student and alumni commentary in January. Alumni and current students are critical stakeholders in the future of the college, who also hold a unique perspective on the St. Mary’s experience – a perspective valued by the administration. Provost Wick requested any information that might help inform his recommendations; he can be reached at [email protected]

Betül Başaran, Barrett Emerick, Bradley Park John Schroeder, Charles (Chuck) Stein, Michael Taber and Katharina von Kellenbach

Please note that College President Michael Wick has requested comment on the decision. You can contact him by email at [email protected].

Students and alumni have settled a page that includes a petition and information on possible cuts. Check it out and remember to sign.

Related: Threatened departments of philosophy: information, proactive strategies, defense

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