Monday, May 20, 2024

French major deactivated due to lack of enrollment

The Faculty Senate announced the deactivation of the French BA and BS here at Plattsburgh State on Oct.3.The Faculty Senate announced the deactivation of the French BA and BS here at Plattsburgh State on Oct.3.For the next three years the option to major in French will be “put on hold”; however, the French minor and French classes will still continue according to Dr. Margaret Leone, French lecturer at PSUC.The deactivation of the BA and BS program will not affect the students who are already enrolled in the program, but will not allow any new students to join. Lack of enrollment is the main reason for the program’s hiatus, which is shown by the four students currently enrolled in the program.

The BA  MST is now on the chopping block at the next Faculty Senate meeting. Understanding the budgetary reasons behind the deactivation, Leone still feels that getting rid of the major is a “disservice” to the students of the college. “It’s sad for the university,” said PSUC alumna Ashley Jovine. “The Arabic, Italian and German programs only have two levels to them.

Now, there is only one language that they can fully study all the way through their college career.” The former French club president is extremely sad to see the program go because of the bond that is created through the program won’t be available to students any longer. “Going into the school knowing that I had the opportunity to learn and pursue French made me excited,” Jovine said “and hearing that other students won’t have that makes me sad. It’s unfair.”

Jovine graduated in May 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in television and video production with a minor in French. Jovine said that even though the classes were small when she attended, it gave the professor’s more opportunities to work closely and focus on the students.

“We were always speaking French.” Jovine said. “There were a bunch of cool projects that fun and extremely helpful to learn the language.”
Jovine is still incorporating her knowledge of French into her everyday life because it has “become a part of who she is.”

Leone said that since foreign language has no longer been a Gen Ed requirement, enrollment in the program has definitely suffered.

“We’re relying on student’s experiences from high school,” Leone said. “When the classes were required we could do more outreach and pull people into the program.”

Dr. Marie Cusson, Coordinator of the French minor program and French professor said that when foreign language is a requirement for students it pushes them to try something new.
“I took german in graduate school solely because it was a requirement.” Cusson said. “30 years later, and I still continue to work on it. If my university wouldn’t hadn’t required it I may not have pursued it.”

According to Leone, the classes offered through the department aren’t all just grammar and memorization, but are more culturally based.
The French department currently has two full time faculty members which Leone feels also limits the program.

“It feels like an uphill battle,” Leone said. “Only having two faculty members limits the total number of courses we need to offer. It’s hard to pull all the pieces together for a program without having certain specialists.”

Cusson believes that the small size of the staff personalize the education for the students that are currently enrolled.

“We decide what the program will be ourselves.” Cusson said. “The program will always be limited by what the professors know.”

The French BA and BS offer many opportunities that utilize Plattsburgh’s proximity to Montreal and Quebec.

“There are several programs in Quebec that are much more affordable for students than going to Europe or Africa,” Leone said. “The college should take more advantage of that.”
Jovine explained that in her time spent in the program that professors would get the students involved with the Quebec culture while working on their language skills.

“The professors would coordinate events in Montreal that helped us practice the language,” Jovine said. “The professors really wanted us to improve.”

The French department hopes to market itself more in the near future, recruit more students and gather more overall support for the program.

“We want to target first-generation Americans, students from sub-Sahara, central Africa and Haiti, that could really benefit from formal practice,” Leone said. “This would allow them to become more marketable while staying in touch with their roots.”

The French Department will be organizing a trip to Paris in the spring semester 2019.

“Foreign language opens up a world,” Cusson said. “Being able to transcend their own linguistic barrier is an asset.”

Email Windsor Burkland at

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