Howard University to Close Its Classics Department

Howard University in Washington, D.C. has announced that it will disband its department of classics. The department has been part of the university since its founding in 1867. It is the only department of classics at a historically Black college or university.

A statement was released which read: “Howard University has decided to close the Department of Classics as part of its prioritization efforts and is currently negotiating with the faculty of Classics and with other units in the College as to how they might best reposition and repurpose our programs and personnel. These discussions have been cordial, and the faculty remains hopeful that the department can be kept intact at some level, with its faculty and programs still in place.”

The department has eight faculty members. It is hoped that they, and the courses they teach, will be dispersed to other academic departments.

Anika Prather, an adjunct professor in the department, told the Washington Post that “the world of the ancient times was a really diverse place. If we lose it, we lose a part of all of us.”

In an accompanying opinion piece in the newspaper, Harvard professor Cornel West and Jeremy Tate, the founder of the Classic Learning Test, wrote that “academia’s continual campaign to disregard or neglect the classics is a sign of spiritual decay, moral decline, and a deep intellectual narrowness running amok in American culture. Those who commit this terrible act treat Western civilization as either irrelevant and not worthy of prioritization or as harmful and worthy only of condemnation.”

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