French program restored from ashes


Heppeard recalls the fragile experience of foreign language programs at UNI in 2012 following budget cuts. The program has since been revived, in a new form, by UNI faculty.

ANDREW HEPPEARD, Opinion Columnist

My time at UNI started in the Fall of 2012, just after the fall of many programs on campus. Unfortunately for UNI, many of the programs cut were language programs including French, German and Russian, among others.

For some perspective, each of the three above languages held one major in the language itself, one with a teaching emphasis and a minor. This means that by removing their programs, six majors and three minors were removed from UNI’s roster.

Moreover, the faculty was blindsided by the action to remove the programs, resulting in an astounding 18 grievances raised by the United Faculty – UNI’s affiliate Union of the American Association of University Professors – and spearheaded by Betty DeBerg, a now retired professor of American religion.

Seventeen of these grievances were ruled in favor of the faculty.

The newest in this line of victories comes from Julie Husband, head of the Department of Language and Literatures at UNI, and the team of professors concerned with the return of French and other programs.

Though courses in French and German have been offered for those who need to fulfill the language requirement of the Liberal Arts Core, students like myself might think twice about attending an institution without a fully functioning language program. Believe me, I thought more than twice.

Through the efforts of professors like Flavia Vernescu and Elizabeth Zwanziger, the department has teamed up with Université de Franche-Comté in Besançon, France to present a rare opportunity to UNI students in the form of a brand new French major, which kicked off this semester.

This new program allows students to spend two years at UNI completing their LAC courses and a number of language requirements necessary for the major, and end their time in Besançon with a final two years in France.

“We wanted to offer UNI students a truly unique BA major in French. To our knowledge no other university in the United States offers a French dual degree program. For UNI tuition, a student can study for two years at UNI and in Besançon, and earn both the French license and an American BA. It’s a terrific opportunity,” Husband when asked about the major.

Not only are UNI students paying UNI tuition, but cost of living estimates are significantly lower in France when compared to campus living in the US.

Now, I have two majors, which means I will technically graduate with two degrees from UNI when I complete my fifth year. If I had the opportunity to achieve two degrees from two institutions in two countries inside of four years, I would not have hesitated to take that opportunity.