Threat to Women’s Studies, Africana Studies at USF

Apparently the provost at the University of South Florida is planning to consolidate a number of smaller departments including Women’s Studies and Africana Studies.  There’s a blog with more information here and a petition (signatures collected until 31 March) here. Thanks, KV, for the information.

4 thoughts on “Threat to Women’s Studies, Africana Studies at USF

  1. Since I spent some years involved in issues about “shared governance” and the role of a faculty senate, I find a curious pleasure in looking at documents coming from another university. I have to say it all looks about as odd as these things generally are.

    The recommendations about demoting the two departments followed on the then-provost asking the faculty senate to look at how to make strategic cuts in the university’s academic programs. I personally cannot imagine entrusting such a decision to a faculty senate, despite my years in a faculy senate. In addition, the report issued said they spent one to two hours on each department. That’s a warning signal. Further, the evaluations were done by USF faculty; conflict of interest, anyone? Finally, the report itself says that of course it is flawed and is meant to be just one factor in the decison making.

    I understand the present provost at USF is saying that the decisions recommended are not necessarily going to be enacted. Goodness knows if there is anyone with an overall idea that is going actually to guide decisions, but it all looks to me like the all too familiar upheaval state universities can go through while the administrators through up fog screens and pretend to care about shared governance.

    O dear. That might sound cynical. Can’t think why one would be cynical.

  2. I’m confused by the info presented in the links from the petition, etc. I can see it is a problem if the programs are cut, but I don’t understand why it is such a disaster if they are combined. I’m currently in a combined department (Linguistics and Philosophy) that works very well and involves a healthy degree of autonomy to each section. It also seems to me an opportunity to have Women’s Studies and Africana Studies combined. In order to be aghast at the possibility, I have to have more evidence that it would actually be a bad thing.

  3. I went to USF for a year and tried to take Women’s Studies classes, but they made it really difficult. The major wasn’t even an option, because I was in the St. Petersburg branch of the school.

    They should promote these majors more, before trying to cram two important majors together.

  4. A large southern state university and the faculty’s major (or a major) recommendation for solving financial problems is putting women’s studies and African studies together into one department, as opposed to two. Doesn’t sound good to me, though not because of structural consequences. Rather, it sounds like the change will take departments with internally low status, respect and clout and further weaken them.

    The objections of the Africana Studies department ring true to me, and I’m in a comparable university: The department has been chronically undersupported and the change will further rationalize that lack of support.

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