Was cutting Howard University’s Classics Department the right decision?

By: Neveah Richardson  There are probably over a thousand reasons I chose to attend Howard University. Between the legendary alumni and prestigious name, my decision wasn’t very hard, and finding out that Howard University was the only historically Black university to offer a Classics program was the icing on the cake. So you can imagine my disappointment when Howard University’s board of trustees announced their decision to cut the classics department this fall. The classics department was established in 1867, the same year the prestigious HBCU was founded. The department quickly became a mecca for learning about Black people and their contributions to antiquity, but over the last decade, the program has been dissolving. Howard University stopped offering a classics major in 2009 after a commission to review the university’s degree programs recommended the removal of the classics major. While the department itself will be closed come fall 2021, students will still be able to minor in classics, and the antiquity courses formerly held in the classics department will be available in other departments. “We obviously believe that the content that we offer in classics is important, but we also must contemporize that teaching with practical application,” Dr. Wutoh, provost and chief academic officer at Howard University, told the New York Times. In 2017, another review of Howard University’s academic programs based on enrollment and matriculation suggested that the university dissolve the classics department because it does not provide major courses and general courses can be taken through other departments. According to Dr. Wutoh, limited funding, low enrollment, and low student interest were reasons for the closing of the historic department. The board of trustees of the university have approved of the department’s four tenured faculty members to remain within the College of Arts and Sciences, while the contracts of four non-tenured faculty members will not be renewed. Dr. Prather, one of the non-tenured faculty members of the classics department, said in an interview that seeing the department dissolved was disheartening at a university where the study of antiquity is told from a Black perspective. Dr. Prather says she focuses […]

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