Canadian Studies office closes

UVM made headlines this week in the Burlington Free Press as well as several Canadian newspapers, with the closing of the Canadian Studies office that is currently located in the Nolan House on Main Street. Dean of Arts and Sciences Eleanor Miller, said the decision was motivated by financial and popularity reasons. “It costs us $35,000 a year for Canadian Studies to have a dedicated space and the only grant the Canadian Studies program had was $9,500. So it didn’t seem like a wise investment.” Miller said that “we are moving towards a global and regional studies degree that we hope will replace the international studies degree that we have now. It will have an emphasis on globalization instead of solely on interactions with [individual] nations.” Miller also mentioned that there are currently only two Canadian Studies Majors and three minors and that Canadian Studies is the only international program with its own office. “It didn’t make sense to give Canadian Studies a dedicated space when none of these [regional] programs have a dedicated space or their own administrators,” said Miller. Regardless of the administration’s reasons, associated faculty and students feel that the closing of the Canadian Studies office is representative of the lack of administrative support for Canadian Studies over the past few years.Paul Martin, head of the Canadian Stud?ies Department, said, “You can’t judge this by how many students are majoring or minoring in Canadian studies.”The point is how many students are taking these courses and learning something about Canada, which has such a crucial relationship with the United States.”UVM offered 15 Canadian studies courses with a total close to 300 student enrollment this past year.Canadian History professor, David Mas?sell, also said that although the Canadian Studies program is currently only making $9,500 in grants, up until 2005 UVM it was receiving an annual $65,000 grant with SUNY Plattsburg and University of Maine Orono from the U.S. Government.However, the UVM Canadian Studies program lost this grant because “administrative support was questioned”. Massell stated that losing this grant was an “embarrassment” and “a slap in the face”.Massell also said that he came to UVM eleven years ago because of its “national and internationally recognized Canadian Studies program,” and now if Laval University or McGill University offered him a faculty position he would “strongly consider it.”Although it is unlikely that the closing of this office will directly influence course offerings in Canadian Studies, Martin thinks it will impact the strength of the program.”It will definitely be harmful in accessing future grants … grants look for evidence of support from the University”In addition Martin said, “We fear that we could lose our $9500 grant. Aside from providing trips for students, it also provides additional research money for faculty.”On Tuesday, SGA passed an emergency business resolution that condemned the administration of its actions.Scott McCarty, who headed this resolution stated that the closing of the office, “sends a very bad signal to students who want to study this and to the students who are already attending courses like History of Canada, Canada-American Relations and other courses.”Dean Miller believes that the overwhelming response to this decision is due to misinterpretation of the situation. “I am surprised about the uproar over the closing of this office and I think it’s mostly because of misperception that we are killing Canadian studies on this campus.”She maintains that UVM is still committed to Canadian Studies, stating, “We just had a conversation with Laval University and we are looking to establish a vital exchange of students and faculty and I think that is good evidence that it’s not that we aren’t interested in Canada.”While Martin is enthusiastic about the early prospects of this exchange program he maintains that closing the Canadian Studies office sends a mixed message.”Here is a moment where Canadian Studies has the opportunity to grow. This relationship with Laval will increase the pertinence of Canadian Studies on campus which will result even more of a need for an office.”Although the future for the Nolan House is not final, Miller thinks that part of the space might house the expanding Holocaust Studies program until Billings is renovated and possibly the global studies program several years from now.