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Missoulian mailbag

As reported previously in this newspaper, higher education got rolling in Montana with the Territorial University's first faculty hire: William Aber, professor of languages (Daily Missoulian July 10, 1895). "Languages" then meant Greek and Latin, and study in the Classics has continued at the University of Montana since — as has Aber's faculty line (I am its fifth occupant).

Now a collection of university folk tasked as window-dressing for the latest managerial fad countenances eliminating this program.

If administrators really mean to "reinvent the core curriculum" (UM President Sheila Stearns), perhaps they should strike fatally at the genuine core of a liberal education. But for faculty to take such a measure seriously as a way of paying the administration's bills is a sign of deep ignorance among UM's own. Small wonder students are voting with their feet, and legislators leery of increasing funding for debased instruction and administrative growth.

Here's an idea for cost-cutting: merge administration with all the trendier programs in an "Institute for Innovative Management and Ephemeral Studies," which can organize itself however it will and teach whatever happens to be popular without always having to "re-brand" itself. Maybe the rest of us could get on with our real work.

Hayden W. Ausland,


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