Department of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures, and Cultures will continue to offer Japanese language courses in the spring, contradictory to a previous announcement made this semester that suspended the language course in the spring.
In response a small student movement urging the university to rescue the course, the LLLC turned to grant opportunities to keep the course afloat.
The department received the COVID-19 Relief Grant – Salary Assistance for Japanese Language Courses from the Japan Foundation, an organization based in Tokyo, Japan, that is dedicated to cultivating an understanding of Japanese culture around the world.
The grant awards up to $10,000 during the 2020-21 academic year to supplement the salary of Japanese language instructors in school districts that have been financially affected by the pandemic.
Applicants were required to ensure, or at least show a “strong desire,” to continue offering Japanese language courses after the reward period ends.
Japanese Language Professor David House located the grant and said that he was thankful that the department was able to receive it.
“It’s excellent that we were able to receive the grant,” House said. “It’s also good news that our administration was willing to support applying for the grant in the first place.”
House said that the university would not be eligible for this grant again.
“In fact, I don’t think this grant will be offered again,” he said, explaining, however, that the university is eligible for a larger program development grant that would help sustain Japanese-related education.
House, who taught Japanese for several years as a part time professor, was hired as a visiting lecturer in 2017, a position he will continue to fill until a permanent position is approved or until the course is suspended.
“I was quite happy to hear that Japanese was saved,” Ian O’Dwyer a junior film student said. “With it being my last semester, it’s more so assurance that other people will have the opportunity to take it in the future.”
However, Dr. Lynn Burley, interim chair of the LLLC department, said that the future of Japanese courses is still uncertain.
When Burley became the interim chair of the LLLC, she was told that if she could increase the student enrollment in Japanese language course, then she would get closer to approval for a permanent lecturer position.
“We used to have what was called emergency hires, which were basically people who were hired to teach full time, which usually means four classes,” Burley said, explaining that Japanese language courses have been predominantly taught by emergency hires in the past.
“They don't serve on any committees, they don't do the work of the department, they have no say in the running of the department, or the curriculum of the department or anything. They just teach.” Burley said, adding that the emergency hires worked for much less than permanent hires.
To prevent the university from hiring several part-time professors instead of filling a permanent position the board of trustees created the “three year and out rule”.
“The Board of Trustees put in place that you can hire somebody for three years on an emergency basis, because if you could employ somebody for three years, obviously it's not an emergency,” Burley said.
House was hired on as a visiting lecturer in the spring semester of 2017, and because of the “three year and out rule” he was able to be employed for three years before the college would be forced to consider hiring a permanent lecturer for the course.
The three years are come end with this semester when House might have been hired considered for the permanent position. Unfortunately, when COVID-19 swept across the nation, budget cuts followed in suite.
Burley added that because of the retiring incentive last semester there are multiple positions around campus that need to be filled. Because Japanese is not a major or minor position that need to be filled in areas that are hold a higher priority and on top of that the university is under a hiring freeze that is unlikely to be lifted anytime soon.
Burley said that her department has asked for a full-time instructor in Japanese, but she is “99.9% certain that it won’t happen.”
For now, Japanese language courses are safe, but given the factors at play unless more grant funding is received or one of the other language major or minors is suspended the university will not be able to sustain the course past fall 2021.