Statement on West Virginia University’s Proposed Elimination of World Languages Department


August 23, 2023 - The Phi Beta Kappa Society is gravely concerned about the recent proposal by West Virginia University to eliminate its entire department of world languages, literatures, and linguistics. The Society recognizes the extraordinary challenges universities across the country face in remaining fiscally responsible while providing a well-rounded educational experience. However, complete elimination of the opportunity for undergraduates to study a world language from faculty would severely limit an institution’s ability to deliver a robust arts and sciences education and would be unprecedented at a campus housing a Phi Beta Kappa chapter.

The Society submitted a letter to West Virginia University leadership urging the University to preserve the opportunity for WVU students to receive an unparalleled academic experience that includes the study of language provided by the institution itself. Together with its chapters, the Society works in support of the arts and sciences on more than 290 campuses across the country. The Alpha of West Virginia is the only Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the state.

Language study is not only an essential component of an arts and sciences education, but research suggests that it also enhances communication skills and promotes intercultural competence, imperative qualities for personal and career success in today's complex and changing world. A comprehensive arts and sciences education, which includes the study of language, fosters critical thinking, creativity, and engaged citizenship. Elimination of a central pillar of the arts and sciences would unnecessarily reduce opportunities for deserving students to reap these life-long benefits.

The Phi Beta Kappa Society is a national leader in championing arts and sciences education and seeks to work together with WVU with this shared commitment in mind. For anyone looking to champion arts and sciences education in their own campuses and communities, please visit the Society’s National Arts and Sciences Initiative for resources and ways to get involved.