The Louisiana Classicist

June 15, 2010

continuing the call to action

Filed under: announcement — Ann E. M. Ostrom @ 11:40 am
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A brief message from incoming Louisiana Classical Association President Scott Goins (McNeese)

Hi fellow LCA members,

For those who haven’t written letters yet regarding the possibility that LSU will drop the classics major, I thought it might be helpful for me to list the address and email for Mr. Chatelain, the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. Here it is:

Mr. R. Blake Chatelain (Chairman)
P.O. Box 12550
Alexandria, LA 71301
(318) 561-4000

I sent some letters by snail mail. But apparently the Board is posting emails, so that might be a better way to go. I noticed the there are tons of letters on behalf of the graduate library program and (I think) a political science program. I think even short emails from lots of individuals might help.


Scott Goins
Professor of Classics, McNeese
Incoming LCA Prez.


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

LSU Latin (still) needs your help!

Filed under: announcement — Ann E. M. Ostrom @ 1:18 pm
Tags: ,

From Wilfred Major (LSU):

I apologize to those of you who receive multiple versions of information as we try to get the word out:

As you have likely heard, Chancellor Martin at LSU has announced plans to terminate the Latin and German majors and severely cut foreign language offerings in general, including in Classics. The Chancellor’s recommendations must yet be approved by the Board of Supervisors at their July meeting and then by the Board of Regents.

Everyone is wondering what to do next, of course. Here are a couple of options:

I. As part of our attempt to avert these cuts, we are engaged in a letter writing campaign in support of the program. If you want to write a letter, you can:

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, You can also send a copy of your letter to each individual member of the board. The full list is available online (

If the recommendation continues on to the Board of Regents, we expect to send these letters to them, and you may do so yourself if you wish.

II. Contact other friends, alumni and students of foreign languages to write letters, anyone who will be a helpful supporter. It does not have to be anything elaborate.

Johanna Sandrock ( and Wilfred Major ( are archiving these letters for the department, so it would be helpful if you sent a copy to one of them.

III. Share ideas and inspiration!

best wishes,
Willie Major

PS: If you are on Facebook, there is a “Save LSU’s Latin Major” group.

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