Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Sept. 2 letters to the editor – WVU Academic Transformation

EDITOR’S NOTE: LTTEs regarding WVU Academic Transformation

OUT-OF-STATE SUBMISSIONS regarding WVU’s Academic Transformation are now CLOSED. However, we will still accept letters related to the transition from writers in our coverage area (Mon and Preston counties) under the standard letter to the editor guidelines. EMAIL submissions to opinion@dominionpost.com. MAIL submissions to: The Dominion Post, 1251 Earl L. Core Road, Morgantown, WV 26505. INCLUDE your name, hometown and phone number for confirmation. Letters should not exceed 300 words.

‘Why would they ever come back home?’

I am a 1990 graduate of WVU and a life-long West Virginian. My education has afforded me many opportunities. I have been able to live and work in the state that I love. My husband, a 1989 WVU graduate, and I have two children who were both National Merit Scholars. They chose to attend WVU. They both found WVU to be an enriching environment and excelled. And they both studied mathematics.

To drastically cut this program, as is proposed, will impact many more students than we are being led to believe. The graduate level math programs support not just the math students, but also the chemistry, biology and physics students. The students who study engineering rely on the rigorous classes taught by professors, lecturers and grad students.

Our state often laments the loss of young people. WVU has been an outstanding institution that has actually drawn people here. But so many of the proposed changes would force our best and brightest to leave the state to earn the education they desire. And then why would they ever come back home?

Lora Tabler Hammersla
B.A. in mathematics (1990)
Masters of education, specialty in math (1996)

After cuts, what will be left for students?

I am an established writer, teacher and even the editor of the Archeological Society of Maryland’s newsletter because of WVU’s English department.

I had so many opportunities that I fear others will not have because of the projected cuts. I was the president of Sigma Tau Delta and the English Club; I interned at the West Virginia University Press; I was the editor of “Calliope,” the English Department’s literary magazine; and I am still part of the thriving webbed network of friendships, literary allies and mentors.

I have relied on my WVU mentors heavily and I have developed wonderful friendships with them. For this reason, I fight. I drove five hours and wore my red shirt at the protest on Aug. 21. I was able to speak with everyone from freshmen to faculty.

My former professors, my friends, have been gagged. They might lose their jobs at any moment by expressing their opinions and, certainly, their truths. The promises that go with tenure are over. There is no job safety. No plan for what comes next.

The country’s writing and literary communities are interwoven and will unravel with just a few snips. What happens when the students I spoke with don’t have access to my opportunities? Or terrific faculty? What is left for them to study and what will their story be? Will they be able to write their stories? These are heavy questions.

I wrote a poem found in The New Verse News Literary Magazine called “A Mountaineer Can be a Poet and Still Fire a Musket.” It is my battle cry to administration and my firm solidarity with the faculty, staff and students that are being impacted.

Kim Malinowski
B.A. in English, concentration in creative writing (2005)
Laurel, Md.

WVU has only accredited arts program. Don’t cut it

Since graduating with my Master of Arts in Studio Art in 2022, I’ve landed my dream job as an art instructor and program coordinator at Owensboro Community & Technical College in Kentucky. Fortunately, it’s a community of educators that respects the humanities and the vital role they play in enriching our lives.

To recognize the magnitude of this career victory in my life, one must understand that I grew up in rural poverty. My education at West Virginia University and at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville provided my only chance to break generational lines of poverty.

WVU’s proposed “academic transformation” will ensure people like me do not get the same chance. Escaping poverty should not be reserved only for fields of study administrators deem “popular” with students.

WVU Art & Design is the only university [program] in West Virginia accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). The proposed cuts to sculpture, ceramics and printmaking will undoubtedly lead WVU Art & Design to lose its accreditation. Offering no 3D media and lacking three of the most basic artforms, WVU Art & Design will no longer meet NASAD standards. The consequences of this will further culturally and economically impoverish the people of West Virginia.

I urge WVU administration to stop the cuts to the arts and humanities, specifically to faculty and programs in Art & Design, and to rethink the upper administration salary budget. Humanities degree programs and faculty did not cause the budget deficit, nor will cutting them solve it. These areas are already underfunded.

As an educator and on behalf of WVU alumni everywhere, I ask WVU administrators to make the right decision.

Abbi Ruppert
Owensboro, Ky.

‘I met my best friend in elective French course’

I reach out because I wanted to share my experience with the WVU’s Academic Transformation. I strongly disagree with it, as I met my best friend in an elective French 102 course.

I am an in-state alumni from Grafton who graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in computer science.

If I hadn’t taken that French course what is now 14 years ago, I wouldn’t have met one of the most wonderful people in my life. His name is Zack Walton, and while he now lives in North Carolina, my family sees him as my brother because we are so close. He brought me through some dark times in my life.

I was never inclined to history classes, but I have a strong appreciation for foreign languages. (I also took Japanese as I considered it more applicable to my major than a history course.) I would hope that WVU reconsiders its commitment to foreign languages and other arts when we are in a time of it being lost and us regressing as a country.

Joshua Cooper