Italian major reduced to IIM
This year's graduating class, the Class of 2014, will mark the last group of Italian Studies majors to leave the University. As a result of cuts to the program made in 2009, while effects of the recession were acutely felt by the University, students from the classes of 2015 onward will only be able to declare a major in Italian Studies as an independent interdisciplinary major. Declaring an IIM requires a formal proposal and three faculty to serve as advisers for the major.
The Italian Studies IIM, however, will follow a pre-set program of courses that is similar to the former major.
Designating Italian Studies as an IIM, even when still structured as a major, is somewhat unique. According to Julia Moffitt, academic advisor and IIM coordinator, IIMs are normally student-driven and independently designed, as per the name of the program.
"The Italian [S]tudies major was one of several programs lost during the last recession, at the recommendation of the Curriculum and Academic Restructuring [Steering] Committee, chaired by former Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffe," wrote Elaine Wong, senior associate dean of arts and sciences for undergraduate education, in an email to the Justice.
"Italian Studies had been an IIM for many years and returned to this status upon the faculty acceptance of the CARS recommendations," added Wong. "It was a very tough financial time for the university, and several [Master of Arts], minors and majors were affected."
There are five Italian studies majors slated to graduate this year. Three students from the Class of 2015 have declared an IIM for the following year so far, according to Sophia Baez '15, an Undergraduate Departmental Representative for Italian Studies. Seventeen Italian Studies minors are currently declared.
Italian Studies currently has two faculty members tied primarily to the program: Profs. Paola Servino (ROMS) and Silvia Monteleone-Wasson (ROMS). Servino and Monteleone-Wasson are contract faculty and do not hold doctorate degrees.
In comparison, Hispanic Studies has 11 affiliated faculty, four of which are in the tenure structure. French and Francophone Studies has nine faculty members, three of which are in the tenure structure.
Since the spring of 2010, Prof. Emeritus Richard Lansing (ROMS)has taught only one course at the University-a class that was in the Comparative Literature program rather than the Italian Studies program. To fill the gap in upper-level instruction, according to the University's Course Catalog, Servino has taught an upper-level Italian literature course every semester since then. This semester, she is teaching ITAL 120b: "Modern Italian Literature." Servino also co-chairs the program in Italian Studies with Prof. Ramie Targoff (ENG), a scholar of Renaissance literature.
According to Wong, there are currently no plans to replace Lansing, who retired at the end of last academic year, according to a May 20, 2013 Justice article.
"Tenure track requests must come from departments; the Dean's office has not been able to authorize the majority of annual requests since the university has been in budget deficit," wrote Wong.
Currently, Italian Studies is the only language program at Brandeis besides Korean that does not have a tenured or tenure-track professor teaching the corresponding literature courses. Programs in Spanish, French, German, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Latin and Greek, meanwhile, all have tenured or tenure-track professors teaching the upper-level literature courses.
Baez said in an interview with the Justice that she believes a drop in student interest has contributed in part to the decline of the program.
In addition, having to take extra steps to declare an IIM as opposed to a regular major might be a deterrent for some people, according to Moffitt.
However, said Baez, the program's "small, comfortable feeling" breeds the high rate of retention among the students that it does attract.