Department of Modern Languages faces budget callbacks


After an university-wide enrollment drop of nearly 1,000 students from fall 2016 to fall 2017 led to a budget callback of $12 million, the Department of Modern Languages is facing additional potential budgetary reductions.

The lowered enrollment rates have resulted in a callback from many departmental budgets, totaling about $2.5 million, said Amit Chakrabarti, dean for the College of Arts and Sciences.

A callback from a budget is a single-time withdrawal from an initially promised amount of funds. It differs from a base budget cut, in which the money removed from a budget is removed indefinitely. Chakrabarti said the College of Arts and Sciences may face a base budget cut in the future, which would affect the Department of Modern Languages.

“After several state budget cuts and callbacks, this college has really no fat left,” Chakrabarti said. “We’ve cut it to the bones, and the enrollment decline on top of that is really hurting us.”

While the individual departmental callbacks are not yet finalized, faculty and students in the Department of Modern Languages are taking action.

Faculty provided students with handouts that emphasized actions that can be taken to protect their individual programs, such as writing letters to administration, asking for support from family or setting up and appointment with a dean, provost or the university president to vocalize their concerns.

“The Department of Modern Languages is facing extreme budget cuts,” the handout read. “If the proposed cuts go through, all languages would be affected, and many would be shut down completely.”

Chakrabarti said the situation is complicated, as there is no favorable solution.

“There is no good way to handle a major reduction of this size,” Chakrabarti said. “All the options are bad options, and we are at the stage of discussing how we might be able to handle it.”

According to the handout, students in the modern languages department wish to protect their programs because the teaching of language and culture cultivates “an inclusive, multicultural K-State family.”

“I think the college should do everything it can to keep as many programs as possible up and running,” Randy Willnauer, senior in English with a minor in Japanese, said. “It would be nothing short of tragic if students lost the opportunity to learn about the language and culture of other countries, especially if they have the passion to work hard to do it.”

Abbie Barnes, junior in Spanish, said the loss of any language program would be detrimental.

“Languages are a part of people, so cutting off these languages is cutting off these people from being learned about,” Barnes said. “To fully immerse yourself in a culture, you have to learn the language.”

Some students, such as Marissa Osterhout, sophomore in English, said they will consider leaving K-State if certain programs are cut from the Department of Modern Languages.

Derek Hillard, head of the Department of Modern Languages, and other faculty members in the department were unavailable for comment as of Tuesday.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story had grammatical errors which led to the inference that the Department of Modern Languages had seen a decrease of enrollment of 1,000 students. The story has been updated to be clear that the decrease of 1,000 students was university-wide.

The story also mistakenly attributed the budgetary decrease to the budgetary callbacks earlier this semester due to incorrect information given by faculty sources. It has since been clarified that the potential budgetary decrease is a separate decrease.