German major currently suspended due to decreasing enrollment in program

Augustana’s German program is suspended until further notice, Executive Vice President and Provost Colin Irvine announced during the early October faculty meeting.

Suspension of the German major means that no new students will be admitted to the program, but the current students will be able to complete their studies. 

“In keeping with our commitment to provide an excellent academic experience for every student in every program and department, we have elected to teach out this program for current majors and minors and suspend it until further notice,” Irvine said.

The main reason the major has been suspended is due to decreasing German major enrollment.

“Interest among incoming freshmen has been and remains low,” Irvine said. “Since 2010 and 2011, we have had an average of less than one incoming freshman per year identifying German as their major. These numbers and the challenges they represent are compounded by pressures on our operating budget in Academic Affairs and by the fact that the one faculty member in the German program will retire at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year.”

According to Pilar Cabrera Fonte, associate modern foreign languages professor, the main professor for German, Stephan Lhotzky is the faculty member with plans to retire.

Irvine said German enrollment has been flat and trending down since 2010 when there were 12 students in the major to this year with only five. After the upcoming spring semester, only two of those students will remain.

“Once those students that are currently enrolled have all graduated, the university will reevaluate the status of the program,” said Cabrera Fonte. “My department is hopeful that will be an opportunity to relaunch the program.”

Senior German and education double major Sarah Bell was shocked by the news.

“I think it’s kinda sad that it could go away,” she said. “I think German was part of the reason I chose Augustana. It also provides a lot of opportunities for those of us that want to go into German.”

Among those opportunities are an assistantship postgraduate program and both semester and J-term study abroad trips.

Bell said she was planning on studying in Germany during spring 2021, but the pandemic caused her to change her plans.

“If there is one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s that we cannot anticipate the future, though we should plan – in as much as that is possible – for multiple scenarios and thus be open to numerous possibilities and partnerships,” Irvine said. “In other words, by suspending the major as opposed to discontinuing it definitively, we give ourselves and future faculty, leaders and students options for reviving it, should those options become feasible and tenable.”

For the program to return from suspension, student demand would have to increase and the program would have to be delivered differently, Irvine said. He added that the program could possibly be delivered with a partnership to another institution or as a part of another program on campus.

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