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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 16, 2010

UI establishes Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures

The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences received approval today to establish a Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

The Iowa Board of Regents unanimously approved the new division, which will include the departments of Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures, French and Italian, German, and Spanish and Portuguese, as well as the American Sign Language Program and the Language Media Center. The units are housed in Phillips Hall.

The college proposed bringing the units together under an umbrella administrative structure to encourage synergy and collaboration among faculty, and to foster interdisciplinary scholarship in the areas of language, literature and culture. The division will be implemented this fall.

“The division will serve as a champion for all language disciplines,” said Linda Maxson, UI Alumni Association Dean’s Chair in the Liberal Arts and Sciences. “It provides the strength to help programs compete for grants and other resources, and it enhances opportunities for cross-cultural course development and research.”

The union is also expected to benefit students, helping them take full advantage of the wealth of options for international and language studies at the university.

“Organizing related departments into a division that fosters more interdisciplinary interactions will attract students preparing for today’s global society,” Maxson said. “Employees must understand and be understood by diverse populations in a more international marketplace, and the most attractive job candidates are those who have gained a high level of proficiency in other languages and cultures.”

In addition, the creation of a division is expected to yield a cost savings for the UI. Administrative efficiencies will eventually result from having fewer department chairs, freeing up faculty to increase teaching productivity. Staff size has been reduced by three positions through shared staff arrangements among the departments that constitute the new division.

The division’s interim director will be Marc Armstrong, professor and chair of the geography department, and a former administrative fellow in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. A national search will be conducted for a permanent director.

Armstrong said the division will build bridges between units engaged in language acquisition and cultural studies, and will enhance the college’s ability to support a diversity of language instruction for undergraduate and graduate students.

STORY SOURCE: CLAS Office of External Relations, 240 Schaeffer Hall, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242-1409

MEDIA CONTACTS: Esther Baker, CLAS, 319-335-2818,; Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070,