The Louisiana Classicist

June 9, 2010

pro lingua latina IV

Filed under: announcement — Ann E. M. Ostrom @ 9:21 am
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From Jane Webb (LSU):

Letter to the Board of Supervisors, LSU

c/o: R. Blake Chatelain, Chairman

June 9, 2010

Dear Mr. Chatelain:

As a native of this state and a product of LSU’s program, particularly the MA in Latin available before the severe cuts of the mid 80’s, it is difficult to see cuts to languages again on the table. There is an appalling lack of vision and the courage it takes to realize a vision where the future of the state is concerned. These two programs are the only available degree programs for Latin and German in a public university in this state. They have provided teachers in elementary and secondary facilities throughout this state and have sent students desiring advanced degrees on to institutions throughout this country. To lose the BA at this point condemns our future program on the secondary level to dependency upon out of state recruitment for future teachers. What will we do when today’s teachers are retiring and in need of replacement? How does one recruit for a state so woefully unwilling to support academics? What does this say about our vision and courage in the face of adversity? How does LSU’s language program ever spring back from this round of cuts?

This move to cut from a core program which runs quite effectively on minimal funds is simply the next statement to the world around us: Louisiana has little creativity in the face of adversity and does not value knowledge. It refuses to see the direct connection between poorly funded institutions and the lost potential of its best and brightest. We will continue to lose students to other states with a stronger dedication and clear funding for education in general and languages particularly. How can we call ourselves the flagship when there is so little stability and security for the university’s core curriculum?

I am sad beyond belief that I not only saw the loss of the MA in Latin in the 80’s but may now see the loss of the BA degrees in both Latin and German, the last presently offered in a public institution in this state.


Jane Poynter Webb, Instructor, Latin and Classical Studies

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, LSU


June 8, 2010

pro lingua latina III

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ann E. M. Ostrom @ 1:34 pm
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The letter I mailed to Chancellor Martin et al. last week:

Latin, the study of Latin, the love of Latin (and all the other languages too) will not die out because Louisiana State University no longer supports such things. But Louisiana State University will certainly be poorer when its presence is reduced. I write this not especially as a Latin teacher with a vested interest in keeping my job at LSU (although it is true), but as a lover of Latin and humanities. Why does Latin matter? Because it binds us in the chains of history, carrying us back in time to a culture and a people who influenced Western Europe for centuries.

The study of Latin is not just a grammatical and vocabulary exercise; the real study of Latin is the exploration of a truly foreign culture, its political and moral philosophies, its art, its religion, its literature. Some may see Latin as an ancillary to those other disciplines, but without Latin, without being able to engage the original texts of Cicero, Tacitus, or Ovid, what do we have left? Without Latin, we also cannot engage studies from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: where would we be without Newton’s Principia Mathematica, Descartes’ Meditationes, or physician William Harvey’s De Motu Cordis?

If there is no Latin major at LSU, where will Louisiana students go to earn such a degree? Louisiana’s Latin students, who are educated in roughly thirty-five middle and high schools across the state, will have nowhere in Louisiana to pursue a major in Latin. What is the flagship university for, but to offer courses that meet the needs of all its citizens. How will we replace our high school teachers in the future? Talented Latin students — who also like to study history, law, and medicine — will have to go out of state, to places like the University of Texas at Austin, or the University of Georgia. Long have local media, businesses, and politicians loudly decried the “brain drain” that Louisiana is suffering. How much worse will that drain be now? How secure is our Flagship status?

Programs like Latin and German; centers that preserve Louisiana citizens’ unique heritage and history like the United States Civil War Center, the Center for French and Francophone Studies, the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History; departments that are not duplicated anywhere like Scientific Glassblowing Facility; they all deserve a place on LSU’s campus. While eliminating them now seems like a financial relief, the savings are just a drop in the bucket, and in a short time, if these proposals are carried, their loss will be felt, like a grandparent who dies, taking family stories and history to the grave, never to be recovered.

Admittedly, I do not know anything about running a university or its overall budget, but I do have a few ideas about what action we could take instead of doing away with these several departments: the University could transition to a four-day work and school week, with ten-hour work days for office and support staff. The classroom and office buildings could then be powered down for an extra day each week — especially helpful in the hottest months of the year. Or instead, maybe the air conditioning system could be regulated better, so that classrooms and offices are only cool instead of freezing cold (exceptions of course for the Library, museums and computer and scientific equipment).

I apologize for the length and choppiness of this letter, and hope that what it lacks in eloquence it makes up for in spirit, and that you take its spirit to heart.

Sincerest regards,

Ann E. M. Ostrom
Instructor, Classics, LSU

Adviser, Alpha Omega chapter (LSU)
Eta Sigma Phi (Latin and Greek honor fraternity)

Blog Administrator
Louisiana Classical Association

June 2, 2010

Latin and other languages in danger of beind cut at LSU

Filed under: announcement — Ann E. M. Ostrom @ 7:30 am
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If somehow you have not heard about the proposals to eliminate the Latin and German majors at LSU, follow this link to the Baton Rouge Advocate.

What can you do to try to prevent this? Dr. Johanna Sandrock (LSU) has a few ideas, in an email dated 1 June 2010:

What you, alumni, your students and friends of the humanities can do to protest the cuts in Foreign Languages at LSU:

1) Write a letter to Chancellor Martin (

2) Write a letter to the Board of Supervisors addressed to the Chair, Mr. Chatelain ( and/or the supervisor elected from your district. This information is available on line (

3) Contact friends, alumni and students of foreign languages to write letters as well.

4) Copy letters to me ( and I’ll archive them for the department.

Time is of the essence. The Chancellor will make his recommendation to the Board of Supervisors within the week and it will be voted on in July. That’s not much time folks, so please set aside time today or tomorrow to write a thoughtful letter protesting the proposed cuts to the BA program in Latin and German and the reduction of language offerings at LSU.

There is a facebook page as well!

March 29, 2010

Villa Vergiliana in jeopardy

Filed under: announcement — Ann E. M. Ostrom @ 6:35 pm
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Forwarded by Emily Batinski (LSU)

Dear Colleagues,

I’m writing to ask all of you to send a letter to the Italian officials indicated below on behalf of the Villa Vergiliana, a place that is essential not only to the Vergilian Society but also to the Centro, as it is our base when we travel to the Bay of Naples twice a year on our field trips. All who have been there remember fondly the hospitality of Maria, Biagio, and Mina Sgariglia.

Letter templates are attached in both Italian and English. PLEASE ADJUST THEM AS NECESSARY. In the past, under similar circumstances, an outpouring of support from American scholars has been very successful. It’s time to take pen in hand again.

Thanks for your help at this busy time of year.



Michael Maas
Department of History, MS-42
Rice University, 6100 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005
office phone: 713-348-2264; FAX: 713-348-5207


1) Ambassador Mr. Giulio Terzi
Embassy of Italy
3000 Whitehaven Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 518-2151

2) Ambassador David Thorne
United States Embassy
Via Vittorio Veneto 119/A
00187 Rome ITALY
Fax: 011 39 06 4674 2244

3) Ministro dei Beni Culturali ed Ambientali
Sen. Sandro Bondi
Via del Collegio Romano 27
00186 Roma ITALY

4) Segretario Generale Arch. Roberto Cecchi
Ministero dei Beni Culturali ed Ambientali
Via del Collegio Romano 27
00186 Roma ITALY

5) Direttore Vincenzo Capobianco
Agenzia del Demanio – Direzione Area Operativa
Coordinamento Operation Beni Demaniali
Via Barberini, 38
00187 Roma ITALY

6) Direttore Generale per i Beni Architettonici, Storici, Artistici ed Etnoantropologici
Arch. Mario Lolli Ghetti
Via S. Michele, 22
00153 Roma Italy

PDF copy of the sample letters

February 23, 2010

Latin in Danger of Being Cut at Centenary College

Filed under: announcement — Ann E. M. Ostrom @ 9:43 pm
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LCA has learned that the president of Centenary College will recommend that the Latin program be eliminated from the Ancient & Modern Languages Department. He will be meeting with Centenary’s board of trustees on March 4th. If the recommendation is accepted by the trustees, Stephen Clark’s position will be phased out by the end of next academic year.

This news is especially disconcerting since it not only involves the elimination of a Latin program from Louisiana but also the loss of a fellow Classicist.

We ask LCA members to support the Latin program at Centenary and Stephen Clark in every way. Soon we will post a draft of a collective letter in support of continuing Latin at Centenary. Those who wish to sign this letter can e-mail Albert Watanabe at awatan AT lsu DOT edu and he will add your name to the letter. LCA would welcome other suggestions to help keep Latin at Centenary College.

posted on behalf of Albert Watanabe, Secretary-Treasurer of Louisiana Classical Association.  When emailing Albert, replace the correct symbols for AT and DOT.

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