No. Not banana splits.
The ONU English and Modern Language (EML) Department has officially split into two separate departments. The English Department holds solely English related majors and minors, and the Modern Language Department will handle only foreign language major and minor tracks.
The change went into effect at the start of the 2017 spring semester; however, talks of the transition began long before. Dr. Stephen Lowe, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at ONU, began preparing for the separation after noticing the growth in the Modern Language side of the department. There are now four Modern Language professors, which, according to ONU’s standards, is large enough for a separate department. Lowe began developing the reconstruction, talking with key administrators and faculty, and eventually received confirmation from the Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Carol Maxson.
For some time now, the EML Department meetings have involved large groups of people with different goals for their respective divisions.
“Although each was quite healthy in the combined department, I concluded that if they were administratively independent, both would have even better opportunities to grow their programs in ways that could benefit ONU students,” Lowe said.
Many other faculty members felt the same way. Both Drs. Nancy Bonilla and Johana Barrero felt the changes were necessary for the betterment of both departments. Dr. Barrero describes the decision as “unanimous” among the faculty as the decision-making processes at the respective departments will now become more efficient.
As for any challenges stemming from the split, Lowe recognizes that early on, any change of this kind present some short-term challenges. However, the long-term effects will ultimately be very beneficial.
“The school is moving forward with a renewed sense of anticipation…and we are confident that students will soon begin to feel some positive impact,” Lowe said.
It is not uncommon for universities to house these two departments separately. According to Lowe, English and Modern Languages existed in separate departments at ONU for most of their histories. In fact, only a decade ago the two departments merged “in an effort to consolidate small departments across campus.”
Looking ahead toward the future, both departments’ faculty remain positive. Dr. Bonilla, the new chair for the Modern Languages Department, said she looks forward to having more freedom to promote the department’s programs and to encourage more students to become involved in foreign languages.
— Caleb Suwanski, Staff Writer