Last week, a few students from the international studies department were called into a closed meeting with select campus administrators and were told that their department would soon be eliminated from the University. Their hearts dropped, and they immediately began planning their response. Adele Bagley, a junior majoring in international studies, mobilized a meeting with many of the international studies students on Tuesday night, which I attended. Several campus administrators, including Dean Singleton and Dean Wilson, were also there, but Dean Wyche, Vice Provost and Dean of Arts and Sciences, was the most significant administrator in attendance. He fielded questions from all of the students concerning the program and raised some interesting points, but I still had some unanswered questions at the end of the meeting.
On Wednesday morning, I had the liberty to speak with Dean Wyche about these questions. I focused on two major issues. First, will the students majoring in International Studies lose value in their degrees? And second, after this seemingly abrupt decision by the University, will international studies students be compensated?
Dean Wyche guarantees that students majoring in international studies do not need to worry about their degrees being any less valuable or credible. He stressed the importance of the quality of classes that students take and the critical value of a student’s cumulative grade point average in being the chief benefits to any student’s success beyond their undergraduate education. He gave the example of medical school admission officers, who are impressed by students who may major in a subject like English or History while still balancing the difficult load of the pre-med track.
Although I am not studying international studies, I know many students close to me who are.
Saran Stewart is one of many international studies students who disagrees with the Dean. Stewart feels the credibility of the international studies degree will be greatly undermined simply from the fact that during her three years at the University, she has had to experience the closing of the School of International Studies and now the dissolution of the department altogether. Therefore there is no question why the credibility of this entire area of study is in doubt. I feel that the students should receive a much stronger guarantee – in writing – that the credibility of their degrees will not waver. We pay approximately $38,571 in tuition and fees, and we should not have to place our futures in jeopardy.
In addressing the issue of compensation for students here at UM, Wyche strongly encouraged student input in restructuring a new program that will be stronger and can serve in place of the current program. He also guaranteed that all of the students majoring in international studies wishing to apply to post graduate programs, internships, etc. will be able to receive a written recommendation by Dean Wyche himself.
Dean Wyche has promised a proposal to all of the international studies students, which was placed in circulation at Thursday night’s meeting. This proposal is still open to student input and will not be finalized until Jun. 1. As students, we must put our input into this new program, which will affect the many students majoring in international studies. I invite all of the students of the University of Miami to support to support your fellow students in their endeavor to resolve this predicament.
Chris Clark can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.