The curriculum leading to the B.A. in English fashions excellent writers and reflective thinkers with highly developed analytical skills, abilities given greater depth and perspective by a comprehensive education in American and British literary culture and history. The average composite ACT score for students in English is 26, and one quarter of English majors and minors have GPAs over 3.5. The quality of the English major also appears in the success of its graduates: students go on with the BA to do graduate work in both literary studies and creative writing; they teach high school English, and they pursue careers in editing, professional and technical writing, and a wide variety of other communication-intensive fields. Demand for degrees in English continues to be high. Official enrollments have increased moderately over the past several years, with the number of majors and minors between 100 and 150. MA students in English specialize in one of four tracks: British and American Literature; Creative Writing; Cultural Studies; or Language, Composition and Rhetoric. Of these, the program in Cultural Studies is unique in the region and distinctive in the Midwest. MA students are admitted on a competitive basis into a program designed for two years with a teaching assistantship, and the department’s graduate admissions committee has become gradually more selective over the past decade. Those accepted average above the twentieth percentile in verbal GRE scores. After receiving the MA degree, some students go on to work towards the PhD and the MFA at prestigious institutions. Some enroll in law school or other non-English degree programs such as library science, ethnic studies, or public policy. The largest percentage of students, however, find employment as technical writers, professional writers or journalists, editors, and teachers in high schools, private schools, community colleges, and abroad.
Various features of the programs in English also offer benefits to the university and the public at large. The Cultural Studies program holds the longest-running cultural studies conference in the nation, offering the most up-to-date topics in the field, bringing an array of national and international speakers to campus for events open to the general public. The Creative Writing track continues to offer public venues for visiting writers, most recently in the form of the Flint Hills Literary Festival; Creative Writing faculty and students also put on regular public readings. Furthermore, the Department’s writing courses are crucial to the University’s core curriculum as well as majors outside the English and beyond the College of Arts and Sciences. The Department offers five hundred classes a year, approximately sixty percent of which are writing courses, including Expository Writing I and 2 as well as technical and professional writing instruction for the colleges of engineering, architecture, and human ecology. The department also offers a wide array of literature and humanities courses that serve a variety of majors throughout the university. For the most recent semester (spring 2002), more than 3500 students took English courses.
The English department's annual budget runs about $2,800,000, and the department produces 25,500 in SCH. These figures represent over a 5% decrease in the percentage of the University's overall instructional use expenditures for the last five years; at the same time SCH production has risen over 5% for the same period. English faculty produce 30 instructional FTE. For tenured and tenure-track faculty, instructional FTE composes about 75% of the total FTE, most of the balance in research and administration. Furthermore, while these figures indicate a relative increase in the efficiency of the department’s teaching, English classes continue to be intensively focused on individual student needs. Relatively small class sizes support the department commitment to each student’s performance, and in this respect English plays a major role in maintaining the university’s profile as a student-centered research institution. Given the constraints of a labor-intensive pedagogy, the department fully utilizes instruction by offering courses that fill, and by managing its large service course load in such a way that it enhances the cost effectiveness of the English major courses with respect to the department as a whole.
Demand for degrees in Modern Languages is high. Official enrollments have increased moderately or remained steady in French and German, respectively, while Spanish continues to enjoy the trend of the last decade of high enrollment growth, which can be observed locally, regionally and at the national level. An important factor that contributes to the growing demand for classes, especially at the intermediate and third-year levels, is the existence of a minor. Many students who formerly did not continue their studies beyond the fourth semester class (the terminal class for those who want to complete the Bachelor of Arts Degree) are now taking an additional 12 credit hours to complete minor requirements. Promotion on campus of study abroad, plus the increased awareness in professional programs of the need for international language and cultural awareness, suggest that there will be even greater demand for a major in Modern Languages at K-State. Although figures for FY 2002 indicate that the Department conferred only three Master’s degrees, the fact that for FY 2003 the Department has already conferred seven degrees testifies to the cyclical nature of the figures. The quality of the graduate students is the highest it has ever been, and the prospects for exceeding the BOR minimum average are outstanding.
Generally speaking, students who major in the Department of Modern Languages are of two types. The first is a relatively small, but talented group who hope to pursue graduate study at the M.A. or Ph.D. levels. The remainder of the majors are students who study the language, literature, and culture of another country or region to enhance their opportunity for employment in fields such as international business, the travel industry, social services, the health professions, and graduate study mainly in social sciences. Currently several recent graduates have enrolled in a special M.S. program in Political Science at K-State that prepares them for international service opportunities. Many others have found that their language expertise and cultural experience have been factors in successful employment searches. Discussions with company representatives and recruiters indicate that there is a continual and growing demand for students with high-level skills in a modern language. In addition to increasing the breadth and depth of cultural awareness, competence in the four skills of reading, writing, listening, speaking is much in demand among employers. Students in secondary education with a concentration in a foreign language find that there are opportunities for them in teaching or counseling. Majors have chosen to continue their studies toward the M.A. and Ph.D. in literature or language acquisition, law, anthropology, translation, counseling, and political science. Recent undergraduates have entered into professional fields such as translation/interpretation, recruiting, instructional technology, speech therapy, and business.
In FY02 the Department produced 889.4 SCHs for each instructional FTE, a figure that is among the most efficient in the College of Arts and Sciences. With a total instructional expenditure in FY01 of $1,476,300, and a total SCH of 15,586, cost per SCH for the Department was $95, again, among the best in the College. SCHs have steadily increased from 1997, from 13,570 to 17,210 in FY02, an increase of 26.8%. During the same period FTEs increased from 23.70 to 25, or 5.4%. These figures are generated in a department whose classes are highly labor intensive. There are no large lecture sections. To be effective, foreign language classes can have no more than 15-20 students. Simply stated, it is clear that this Department has done more with less, and that its cost effectiveness based on SCHs produced per outlay is outstanding, by any measure. Aside from their crucial teaching and research duties, the faculty also renders services usual for a university of this size. Due to the interactive nature of language classes, ML professors are often on a first name basis with students, which results in a high demand for advising both majors and non-majors and for writing letters of recommendation, for example. Because of their expertise, faculty members often translate and interpret not only for the university, but also for the community at large.
The Department of Philosophy is an undergraduate only program with 9.8 FTE faculty members, and 45-48 total undergraduate majors. As of Fall 2002, there are 47 philosophy majors and an additional 9 minors. Sixty percent of the majors are double majors in such disciplines as Biology, English, History, Mathematics, Physics, Political Science, and Psychology. The Department offers a Minor and two baccalaureate degrees, the BA in Philosophy and the BS in Philosophy. Majors may graduate under one of several options: Pre-Law, Pre-Business, Pre-Ministry, Traditional, and Pre-Graduate School Options. The Pre-law and the Interdisciplinary options have double-major tracks. The Department offers on average eight advanced courses for majors each semester. The Department has graduated 30 majors since 1997, at a slowly increasing rate. The Department has recently begun to attract international students to the program. The students who have been here from abroad give a favorable report of the education they have received from the Department.
With very few exceptions, philosophy is a small major at colleges and universities across the country. Usually students have no exposure to the subject prior to entering a college or university, and they are under the false impression that it is not an especially practical major. But the study of philosophy is especially effective in inculcating critical habits of thought and skills for the analysis of complex argument and reasoning in all fields, because it is a discipline uniquely concerned with the clear exposition of good reasoning in all its forms. These skills are essential features of a liberal education—liberally educated citizens are able to make careful moral and empirical assessments of alternative policies and social visions, and to communicate those assessments. The skills are also of practical importance—they are held in increasingly high regard by employers, and enable superior performance on standardized tests. Nationally, for example, philosophy majors perform extremely well on such tests. Philosophy majors score higher on the verbal section of the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) than students from any other major. Philosophy students fare third best among all majors with respect to average overall GRE scores (including the verbal, mathematics and analytic sections). For decades, only Math/Physics majors scored higher than Philosophy students on the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test). From a random sample of thirteen of the majors who have graduated since 1997, five have gone on to law school, three have gone on to Ph.D. programs in philosophy, one has gone into a masters program in philosophy, and the others have gone into employment in the business world. The average ACT score of juniors, seniors and Fifth-year students in the philosophy major at K-State is 27.8, which is significantly higher than the University average of 24. Over the past 20 years, no major graduating from the department who sought admission to law school failed to secure it, and every such student was excepted by a program at least as strong or stronger than KU’s law program. In the 2000-01 year, two graduates accepted into top-ten philosophy Ph.D. programs. One of these students also won the prestigious and highly selective Jacob K. Javitz fellowship. One major who graduated in 2002 entered a top quality philosophy Ph.D. program.
The Department of Philosophy provides service to students in the form of a significant percentage of the College’s UGE offerings for all students, courses required for the BA and BS degrees in the College of Arts and Sciences, and courses in special areas required as electives by programs in other Colleges. Some of the courses offered for the philosophy major are also available to students meeting these various requirements. The growing major meets the needs of very bright students looking to go to graduate work in philosophy and other areas as well as to very good law schools. To maintain the quality of instruction, to continue to develop students' skills in critical reasoning, reading, and discursive writing, course sizes must remain relatively small. At 40 students/section introductory classes are actually a little larger than most seriously writing intensive courses at K-State.