Lincoln University, a historically-black university in Jefferson City, Missouri, has decided to temporarily end its history program due to low enrollments.
Kevin D. Rome, university president, said in a statement, “Our students deserve academic offerings that allow them to be competitive with their peers as they move from our campus into a career.”
Although eliminating or restructuring programs is a “difficult decision,” he continued, “we can better use the resources from those programs to strengthen those degrees with a higher demand from the student and global standpoint. … We must make decisions like these as we look toward the future and the needs of the changing workforce.”
I could respond to this, but James Grossman, Executive Director of the American Historical Society, beat me to the punch:
James Grossman, executive director of the organization, on Tuesday said he agreed with Rome, Lincoln’s president, that a college education should prepare students for a career. AHA has worked with employers through its Tuning Program and learned that they value skillslearned by history majors, he said.
“A history major prepares some students for a specific job,” Grossman said, and “prepares all students for a career.”
Like other critics of Lincoln’s plan, Grossman said that an HBCU “ought to be especially aware of the centrality of history to the intellectual vitality of any institution.” Quoting the provost’s statement, he asked how “‘students, the taxpayers and the university as a whole’ understand the role and identity of an institution that defines itself in part by its history if the institution doesn’t think history is important?”
This is sad news indeed. Some historians on the faculty will be retained to teach general education courses in history.