Beck: All departments to end in ‘studies’ -dlh

Dan Holbrook

Citing the ever-increasing popularity of Lawrence’s environmental studies, religious studies, gender studies, and ethnic studies programs, and the recent creation of an East Asian studies department, President Jill Beck announced Wednesday that, effective immediately, all Lawrence department names will end in “studies.”
Beck announced the policy shift during the last faculty meeting of Term II, before the traditional faculty party:
“In order to provide a more cooperative learning environment for our students, we need to find a way to more aptly represent and articulate those experiential experiences of the ideal educational environment at Lawrence,” Beck began, adding emphasis to particular words by tilting her head forward and raising her eyebrows while looking at the ceiling.
“But while we are clearly on the right track towards establishing a model, whole-student-based ‘World of Learning’ in anticipation of the forthcoming Carnegie Mellon criteria, there are still those who would ask: ‘Whatever happened to good old-fashioned meat-and-potatoes education?’ To allay their fears, we hereby add ‘studies’ to the end of each department’s name.
“This way, we will reassure potential capital investors that, while we believe that most learning takes place outside the classroom, students do indeed still ‘study’ their chosen subjects within an interdisciplinary universe of cooperation.”
Professors, though universally awed by Beck’s grandiloquence, had mixed reactions to the decision. *******The Lawrentian***** caught up with some of them at the faculty party, where they’d divided into two equally vocal and besweatered groups.
In many cases the decision created unlikely alliances, especially among Main Hall professors. John Dreher, professor of philosophy studies, praised the move as “pragmatic.”
“I think too many students are intimidated by the unqualified ‘philosophy,'” added professor Tom Ryckman over the course of several minutes. “Maybe now I can get some student athletes in my classes.”
Brent Peterson, professor of gender and German studies, also hailed the change. “Not that, as a professor, I’m allowed to have an opinion on a subject. But sometimes it seemed that the old ‘studies’ departments were in an academic ghetto. They didn’t seem quite as respectable. But now everyone is in the ghetto, which essentially means that there is no ghetto!”
Peterson also expressed hope that students who were actually German would stop signing up for classes in his department, now that it’s clearly devoted to the ******study***** of German.
Across the room, others stewed over the announcement, which classics studies professor Daniel Taylor called “linguistically dubious.”
“Biology is the study of life,” muttered an unidentified DeStasio.
Indeed, many of the self-proclaimed “Ology” professors had unsuccessfully petitioned for a special exemption to the new ruling. Professor Mark Dintenfass, though late to hear of the change, has also asked for an exception.
“Every year I tell my Fiction Writing class that I can’t teach them anything,” complained the professor, “This new department label is misleading.”
According to one source who identified himself only as “The X,” professor of theatre arts studies Kathy Privatt has privately referred to Beck as “the worst reformer since Noah Webster.”
The change, however, is here to stay. The Registrar has already made the required changes to the forthcoming course catalog, and Computer Services has designated the changes to the Lawrence website a “long-term project,” with an estimated completion date of Dec.12, 2012.
Beck’s announcement also came as a disappointment to Tim Spurgin, professor of English studies, whose own proposal was ignored.
“You know, because of our hiring practices, folks were always wondering why we didn’t just integrate English and gender studies,” Spurgin said, laughing manically for some reason. His face became very serious and he continued. “Maybe we overplayed our hand holding out for an ‘English, gender, and foreign language studies’ department. What do you think?”
Rumors of a “Freshman Studies Studies” course were unconfirmed as of press time.