Open letter from the Medieval Academy of America in response to Humanities cuts at the University of Vermont

President Suresh Garimella <> <>
Dean William Falls <William.Falls@UVM.EDU>
Provost Patricia Prelock  <>

Dear President Garimella, Dean Falls, and Dr. Prelock,

We are writing on behalf of the 3500 members of the Medieval Academy of America, the largest organization in the United States promoting excellence in the field of medieval studies, to support the faculty and students of the University of Vermont who are protesting the administration’s plans to cut twenty-three programs in the university’s College of Arts and Sciences.  We deplore the elimination of the departments of religion and classics, and a series of humanities majors including romance languages and cultures, Asian languages, Latin, Greek, German, Russian and Italian.

By focusing on metrics of enrollment demand alone, you are sacrificing the high-impact learning experiences that so often takes place in smaller classes in the humanities.   At a time when our nation is facing an existential crisis with deep divisions over race, politics, and globalization, you are also diminishing disciplines that offer important tools for grappling with these issues.  Humanities courses teach our students how to think through the issues, critically evaluate evidence, and communicate effectively. They also teach our students about the human condition and enhance empathy for those who are different from ourselves.  Classes in languages and literature that are to be eliminated from your curriculum are foundational for all students in promoting and understanding of our own nation’s cultural and religious diversity and cultivating global citizenship.

We also understand that this decision was made without consulting faculty or the very students whose education will be adversely effected.  We strongly urge you to reconsider this decision and collaborate with faculty and students to devise a plan which will meet the budgetary challenges without sacrificing the vital humanities education of your students.

Thank you for your consideration.

The Presidential Officers and Council of the Medieval Academy of America:

President: Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski (Univ. of Pittsburgh, emerita)
First Vice-President: Thomas Dale (Univ. of Wisconsin)
Second Vice-President: Maureen Miller (Univ. of California, Berkeley)

Lisa Bitel (Univ. of Southern California)
Seeta Chaganti (Univ. of California, Davis)
Raymond Clemens (Yale Univ.)
Lynda Coon (Univ. of Arkansas)
Hussein Fancy (Univ. of Michigan)
Valerie Garver (Northern Illinois Univ.)
Elina Gertsman (Case Western Reserve Univ.)
Fiona Griffiths (Stanford Univ.)
Geraldine Heng (Univ. of Texas at Austin)
Anne Latowsky (Univ. of South Florida)
Laura Morreale (Independent Scholar)
Lucy Pick (Independent Scholar)

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