Submitted by: Jordy Rocheleau
Last week, the APSU administration decided to cut one of the three faculty lines from the Philosophy and Religion program. The position eliminated was that formerly held by Dr. Bert Randall, whose 45 years of service were just celebrated.
The position is currently held by temporary instructor Dr. Ken Faber. Bert and Ken were responsible for teaching courses in Eastern and Western Religions, Ancient Philosophy, Medieval Philosophy, Existentialism, and Logic. Without its only teacher of world religions, the program will not be able to continue offering a Religious Studies Concentration and Minor.
Philosophy and Religion currently have 55 Majors and Minors, many of whom are on the Religious Studies track. The university is reneging on its promise to these students and will lose many to other schools. Additionally, two faculties cannot cover all the remaining areas of Philosophy, placing the Philosophy Major itself in jeopardy.
The department will be unable to maintain a regular class rotation because its offerings will depend upon what adjuncts it can find from term to term. It is very difficult to find PhDs in philosophy locally, and adjunct salary puts off most from driving to Clarksville.
The program also will have reduced capacity to provide courses that serve majors from other disciplines such as Logic for Math and Pre-Law students, Ancient Philosophy for Classics, Eastern Religions for Asian Studies, Medical Ethics for Health and Human Performance and Nursing, and Existentialism and Twentieth Century Philosophy for English.
More generally, cutting a program that teaches rational argument, ethical evaluation, and tolerant understanding of religion is not conducive to the university’s mission of preparing students to be engaged and productive citizens who practice “critical thinking” and possess global awareness and continuous learning, an appreciation of all cultures, and respect for all persons?
The reasoned and broad-minded study of worldviews provided by Philosophy and Religious Studies is if anything, more necessary than ever in today’s global society too often discussed in terms of unanalyzed warring memes.
Philosophy and Religion seem to have been flagged by the administration because the program qualified as low producing due to a nadir of 9 majors two years ago.
Last year the program was told that if it could show continued growth and expand to 30 majors it could fill Dr. Randall’s position. It was also promised that it would have Dr. Faber as a temporary instructor in the position at least through next year.
In the past two years, Philosophy and Religion have increased to 28 majors, a growth of over 200 percent, making it probably the fastest growing major in the university.
Its new concentrations in Religious Studies and Ethical Studies have attracted students beyond those interested in the traditional Philosophy Major. One justification for cutting Philosophy and Religion centered on a myth that the program had a small number of advisees per faculty member.
However, Philosophy and Religion have a higher faculty to major-advisee ratio than all but two programs in the College of Arts and Letters. Moreover, Philosophy and Religion courses have been packed. This Fall, 19 Philosophy sections had a combined total of 5 open spaces, an average of .2 spaces per class.
Other programs in the College have at minimum 9 times as many openings per section. Economically, the Philosophy and Religion program compares favorably to other programs which have been allowed to fill positions in the past year.
Eliminating one-third of the Philosophy and Religion faculty has no numeric justification. In terms of the integrity of the university, it fares even worse, sacrificing Religious Studies and hamstringing Philosophical study. Please join the signees below in speaking up to preserve the line for Philosophy and Religion at Austin Peay.
To add your support or to comment on or engage in dialogue about this proposal, please contact Dr. Jordy Rocheleau, firstname.lastname@example.org
Signed by the Following Faculty: