MSU board approves restructuring of Department of Romance and Classical Languages

Contact: Wendy Wilkins, College of Arts and Letters, (517) 355-4597, or Kristan Tetens, University Relations, (517) 355-5563 or

Feb 12, 2003

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State University Board of Trustees today approved a plan to restructure the Department of Romance and Classical Languages into two new departments: a Department of Spanish and Portuguese and a Department of French, Classics and Italian.

The restructuring, which was proposed by faculty in the department, is effective July 1, 2003.

"This restructuring reflects our response to the growing economic, social and cultural ties that link the Hispanic and Portuguese worlds, particularly Latin America, to the United States," said Wendy Wilkins, dean of the College of Arts and Letters.

"It will foster awareness of the presence and importance of Spanish and Portuguese both within and beyond the MSU community while providing a foundation for further investment in all the languages and literatures we teach."

The change will help the Spanish program address a large and growing student demand for language skills and literature courses. Nearly 300 students major in Spanish; several hundred more take individual courses. The number of student credit hours in Spanish has increased 10 percent in the last five years.

The new Department of Spanish and Portuguese will leverage the university's strengths in study abroad, Latin American and Caribbean studies, and research and outreach programs that address the problems of Hispanic communities in the Midwest.

The new Department of French, Classics and Italian will offer study in the languages, literatures and cultures of France, Italy and ancient Greece and Rome.

Funding for the two departments will come from the current budgetary resources of the Department of Romance and Classical Languages. Funding for one new chairperson and administrative support staff will come from the College of Arts and Letters.

"This change will allow faculty members to more effectively develop our academic offerings in these areas while also sharing the infrastructures already in place for the programs," Provost Lou Anna K. Simon said.

"While current economic circumstances may require significant programmatic curtailments and realignments, there also will be opportunities to strengthen programs and to arrive at creative approaches that promote quality and better meet the needs and expectations of those we serve. This restructuring offers such an opportunity."