Dear Friends of RCS,
I am now close to completing my second year as interim chairperson of RCS, and 2016-2017 featured a major development that will by the Fall of 2018 see the language sections and their programs folded into a new organization, that of school of languages that will incorporate and house all language faculty as well as CeLTA and Second Language Studies. 2017-2018 will be a year of transition and preparation for the launch of the school in the Fall semester, 2018. The overarching goals of the new entity will be greater visibility for language studies and research through the marquee of a school rather than individual departments and programs, greater coordination of research and grant seeking that can come from a marshalling of resources and efforts, vitality of collaborative research and projects across languages, greater connections between the school and the local and state communities, and an articulated mission statement and goals that provide new energy and directions for achieving excellence.
What does this all mean for alumni and friends of the Department of Romance and Classical Studies? First, the department as named and currently constituted will no longer exist and will become part of MSU and College of Arts and Letters history. Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Latin, and Greek will (if all goes as planned in new bylaws and organizational chart) will be distributed across the structure of the language school, as will German, Linguistics, Second Language Studies, Asian, African, Slavic languages, Less Commonly Taught Languages, and CeLTA. Each will constitute a part of the whole and function within the larger administrative structure with a vital degree of appropriate and necessary autonomy. Needless to say, it is an ambitious and, to some degree, daunting task of putting the multiple parts together into a functioning whole, and a large degree of good will and collegiality is needed. Faculty will necessarily be focused on their specific language program while at the same time committed to the advancement of the school.
The RCS faculty have been well served by the faculty who have by now spent countless hours and innumerable meetings first as members of the Exploratory and Planning Task Force (from April 2016 through October 2016) and then the subsequent Action Committee (from November 2016 to the present). Professors Rocio Quispe-Agnoli, Anne Violin-Wigent, Safoi Babana-Hampton, and Miguel Cabanas have served on both Task Force and Action Committee continuously, and Professor Adolfo Ausin joined the group as a member of the Action Committee. Their unfailing and dedicated work has moved the project forward to where it presently is. Much more remains to be done and determined with faculty response and input the key to establishing consensus and smoothing what are seen as rough edges. What is clearly envisioned is the coming together of faculty, language specialists, advisers, support personnel, and staff as part of an enterprise that makes language study, teaching, and research a central activity at a university in a global world where communication and understanding are essential and determining.
Douglas A. Noverr