EDITORIAL: A Greek tragedy, Act II
The more we learn about Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffe's proposal to restructure the curriculum, the more flawed it appears. Last week, Mr. Jaffe outlined the entirety of his sweeping plan to the faculty. It included cuts to the departments of physics, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and the elimination of the linguistics program, the Ph.D. program in musical composition and the teaching of Ancient Greek. Even though this page is still fiercely opposed to Mr. Jaffe's intention to remove Greek from the curriculum, it is heartening to see that he has rescinded his initial recommendation to eliminate the entire classical studies department. But this recent development does not eclipse the reality that many of Brandeis' academic mainstays are now under the guillotine.
Mr. Jaffe has recommended some worthy additions, such as adding more Arabic classes and more courses to the economics and business curricula. But the vast majority of his additions are of dubious worth, especially when one takes into account the valuable disciplines they are replacing.
The administration has targeted the linguistics program as expendable. Perhaps they forgot that this program is headed by Prof. Ray Jackendoff, one of the most distinguished linguists living today. This page is not in the business of making value judgments about which subjects are of inherent importance; we like to think that this is what deans and provosts are for. In this case, however, the academic leadership of the school has proven itself unable to appreciate what we, the students, find so admirable about our university.
The University has made a commitment to diversity classes, yet eliminating linguistics-a study that tears down the walls separating languages and cultures and reveals our common human traits-works against this aim.
Another one of Mr. Jaffe's recommendations is to "shrink" or "narrow" the department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. It is conceivable this department, one of the University's largest outside the sciences, may be overstaffed or overfunded. But it should always be remembered that this department is Brandeis' hallmark.
The dean has also suggested adding Korean language. While this addition would certainly diversify the academics here, looking at the current state of our foreign language programs makes this proposal laughable. There is no logic in adding the Korean track when upper-level classes in all languages except Hebrew are woefully sparse.
Jaffe's next suggestion, the elimination of the Ph.D. program in musical composition is just another blow to the music department that once boasted the great composer Leonard Bernstein among its faculty.
On first glance, Mr. Jaffe's suggestions seem out of left field. But upon closer analysis, they unmask an agenda that has yet to be revealed to the University. By adding professors in areas like East Asian and Latin American economics, Mr. Jaffe is placing a curricular primacy on global economics at the expense of our academic foundations.
That University President Jehuda Reinharz has publicly voiced support for Mr. Jaffe's initiatives and Provost Marty Krauss hasn't uttered a word of protest suggests that our leadership is devoid of a vision that embraces traditional academic values in a progressive environment. Brandeis is young, but its academic tradition is strong. Mr. Jaffe should be mindful that he will be held accountable for derailing this tradition.