Wednesday, June 06, 2007

New "School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics", University of Illinois

We've been hearing about this development for a while, but it's now officially signed, sealed and delivered (see here): Illinois has created a school for languages and linguistics in Urbana.
The board … approved a University school of literatures, cultures and linguistics which will offer more than 30 languages associated with literature and cultures … .

The school of literatures, cultures and linguistics will bring together the departments of classics, East Asian languages and cultures, French, Germanic languages and literatures, linguistics, Slavic languages and literatures, and Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.
I'm far from sure of how to interpret this move: Is it a bold step toward restructuring and revitalizing language and linguistics? Is it along the lines of what the MLA report recommends? Will it bring real funding with it to create opportunities? Will it remove linguists farther from their (often very natural) homes in and ties to social and hard sciences, putting them in a humanities ghetto? We'll see.

But this is part of a major national pattern. For example, at Maryland, "language" has been declared one of three major priorities for the university. They've vaulted to the top of the heap in linguistics and their CASL is hiring top people from all over, for massive pay raises. Seems like these places have innovation being supported from the top. It's hard to find any leadership on this campus above the level of the individual department.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if Mr. Verb's contacts at IL would know if this move will consolidate linguists from the various departments into one 'dept of linguistics', leaving the [put language name here] department with only lit folks?

tulugaq said...

This sounds much like the College of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature at the University of Hawai'i Manoa. I'm not sure how long it's been set up that way (at least earlier than 2000 when I matriculated), but it seems to work fairly well. The departments within it seem to remain autonomous, or at least that was my impression as a graduate student there. Unfortunately massive pay raises didn't accompany this move, because UHM professors are not well paid, particularly given the cost of living.

Mr. Verb said...

Yes, Hawai'i has had that set-up for a long time, I think. Cornell famously had this too, but they abandoned it.

Massive pay raises aren't so important, but some increases in student support would bring us all tears of joy. The current tuition remission charges ($8000 a year tacked on to each grad student we want to hire, charged to grants and likely to move much higher) is crushing us: Even if an agency allows such outrageous charges, it kills the budget unless it's a massive grant.

tulugaq said...

Grad student support is notoriously pitiful at Manoa, because the state keeps cutting the university budget.
In my experience, though, LLL was well above average in securing tuition waivers for its students compared to other departments and colleges in the university.