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Miami University eliminates Comparative Religion major amid belt-tightening

King+Library+at+Miami+University+in+Oxford%2C+Ohio.
EEJCC, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
King Library at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

A report from the Miami University’s Senate Executive Committee states the school’s board of trustees voted on May 17 to eliminate the Department of Comparative Religion according to the Cincinnati Business Courier.

The Courier cites a report from Tracy Haynes, co-chair of the Miami University Senate Executive Committee stating the department will be eliminated “due to low enrolled majors and ‘institutional re-prioritization.’ ”

The move follows through on a letter sent at the beginning of the Fall 2023 term from Provost Dr. Elizabeth Reitz Mullenix to department chairs that stated school had been forced to make “very difficult decisions” regarding undergraduate programs with low enrollment, according to a report from WKRC. By February, the university’s plan began to take shape as a February report from WVXU stated Mullenix said Miami would eliminate its Latin American Studies major and consolidate French, Italian, German, Russian, and East Asian language majors into a new World Languages and Culture degree. Meanwhile, the Department of Geography would shift its focus to climate change and sustainability.

Miami students have pushed back on the changes and Associate Professor in Latin American Studies Elena Jackson Albarran told WKRC the changes may have unintended consequences.

“If anything, I think the longer-term costs of not having programs like these on campus could end up having a negative impact,” Albarran told the TV station.

Mullenix said the changes are part of a national trend.

“The decline in majors in humanities over the last decade is a national trend. Miami is not out of line with that trend at all,” Mullenix told the board of trustees.

While BGSU saw one of its largest classes ever last Fall, according to The Ohio Newsroom, a number of Ohio schools have followed the trend as well, including:

Faculty from the department will be re-housed into other departments in the College of Arts and Science, “where their interests will align and where they can continue to teach and research the relevance of religion in today’s world,” Haynes said in a report to the trustees.

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