The Carleton Closures

This past Wednesday [Ontario] Premier Harris addressed a summit on the future of the universities. On that occasion he said that he sees little value in academic degrees in the humanities, geography, and sociology, in which "the graduates have very little hope of contributing to society in any meaningful way."

(Globe & Mail, Nov. 21, Toronto Star, Nov. 20)
On Thursday, November 20, the Dean of Arts and Social Sciences at Carleton University convened a meeting of the School of Languages, Literatures and Comparative Literary Studies to announce that he would recommend to Senate the closure of all graduate and undergraduate programs in: German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Comparative Literature and Classics. President Van Loon said in a press conference the same day, "The cuts must be made and job losses are inevitable. Some teachers who lose full-time jobs could return as sessional instructors, who will play a larger part in teaching at the university. This would be a big cost saving, since a sessional instructor is paid $7,000 to teach one course, while a tenured professor making $70,000 a year might teach two courses."

Date: Sat, 06 Dec 1997 06:04:57 -0500 (EST)
From: Arnd Bohm <>

Dear Colleagues,
       It is with a heavy heart, and a conviction that much worse is yet to come for the Humanities in Ontario and in Canada, that I report the following:
       Although the exact text has not yet been communicated to us, our non-voting observers at yesterday's meeting of the Senate of Carleton University reported that Senate has voted to accept the following resolutions:
       "D. That the undergraduate programs in Classics, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish and Comparative Literary Studies be closed.
       E. That the master's programs in German and Spanish be closed.
       F. That the School of Languages, Literatures, and Comparative Literary Studies be invited to bring forward a detailed proposal for the modification of the current M.A. and Ph.d. programs in Comparative Literary Studies: [footnote]
       i. The revised program will be delivered with a reduced faculty establishment;
       ii. the program will include substantial participation by the Departments of English and French; and
       iii. the committee to develop the proposal is struck jointly by the Deans of Graduate Studies and Arts and Social Sciences.

 [footnote] The current freeze on admissions to these graduate programs will remain until a revised program is in place."

It should be added that on the day before, in a meeting with the School, the Dean of Arts and Social Sciences had put the last item into perspective. When asked point blank: "It seems that first we are to fire as many people as possible and then to attempt to salvage something," the Dean replied: "That is correct." He is also on record as stating that most of the students presently in undergraduate programs with us will be accommodated through courses at the University of Ottawa.

What happens next? Here, our collective agreement calls for a process of negotiation between the Employer and the faculty union (CUASA). The Dean has indicated that these will be difficult; we assume that he will carry through on his plan to have most of us declared redundant, as announced on November 20. Whether he will succeed is to be seen.

The implications for Ontario universities are dire. One member of the Board of Governors present at the meeting echoed, in an aside, the message of Premier Mike Harris that such small, useless programs must be cut by Ontario universities. That this is part of a much larger right-wing agenda is becoming clearer, since the same message is now being uttered by politicians in the USA.

In solidarity, Arnd Bohm


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