Faculty Council Raises Linguistics to Program Status

The Arts and Sciences Council voted unanimously Thursday to upgrade Duke Linguistics to program status.

With program status, linguistics will now be able to make secondary appointments of regular rank faculty members who have primary appointments in departments. The program will also be able to work with departments in shared faculty searches.

The upgrade reflects a steady increase in undergraduate enrollment in linguistics, which is directed by Professor Edna Andrews and has accepted undergraduate majors since 1994.  It currently has 34 undergraduate majors and seven minors with 500-600 students annually taking linguistics courses.  The program has a core faculty of 16 regular-rank faculty members.

Andrews said the program has quietly developed an innovative curriculum involving humanities, language acquisition, sociology, cultural sociolinguistics, and neuroscience and brain sciences.

At the October faculty meeting, Trinity College Dean Laurie Patton said supporting the linguistics should provide benefits to Duke. 

"Universities of various kinds tend not to look with favor upon linguistics, and when budget crunches happen, linguistics, in the past two or three decades, has been one of top things on the chopping block," Patton said. "We are, in an interesting way, moving in the opposite direction because we see the connections with the emerging areas of cognition, neuroscience, and globalization. That is another big picture reason why this could make Duke distinctive in a tough financial era of all of higher education."