March 19, 2012
Dear President Axworthy,
I am writing on behalf of all the tenured faculty in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies to express my concern at the University’s plan not to convert the limited term appointment in German Studies to a tenure-stream position.
Women’s and Gender Studies has no direct stake in this appointment. We write to you out of concern for the entire University. The effects will be felt not only in the Faculty of Arts. This move places German Studies in severe jeopardy. It also halts its current plan to transform their curriculum to best serve the needs of all of the University of Winnipeg community and the Winnipeg and Manitoba community at large.
Over the last few years, we understand that German Studies has moved into developing curriculum that supports our interdisciplinary Linguistics programme, which, I would point out, directly assists student who wish to enter the fields of speech therapy and practical speech communication. German Studies faculty, including Dr. Kristin Lovrien-Meuwese, whose appointment we urge you to convert, are also working towards developing course work that will support a teachable area in Education.
We also understand that Dr. Linda Dietrick, currently the only tenure stream faculty member in German, plans to retire in the next few years. Dr. Lovrien-Meuwese’s position will ensure a smooth transition to the continuation of German Studies at the University of Winnipeg.
We know we need not point out to you the significance of German as a significant heritage language of culturally diverse groups of settler populations in Manitoba. Speaking personally, as someone who has recently conducted research on a traditional practice of Mennonite Manitobans, the New Year’s mumming brommtopp, I am perhaps more aware than many of the significance of German and Low German language and culture, which I understand is also a research area for Dr. Lovrien-Meuwese. I should also add that my most recent SSHRC-funded research grant, the largest Standard Research Grant ever received by a faculty member at our University, involves significant work with fairy tales, which are perhaps best known in the Germanic tradition in the work of the Grimms. One of my colleagues on that research program, Jack Zipes, Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, an internationally renowned expert on fairy tales, is a former Germanic languages department chair, and I have copied him on this correspondence.
We strongly urge you to reconsider your decision not to convert the limited term appointment in German Studies to tenure track. Indeed, the Women’s and Gender Studies tenured faculty members unanimously recommend that the position be converted. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions or wish to discuss this further.
on behalf of Women’s and Gender Studies Department
cc.: John Corlett, Vice-President Academic; Linda Dietrick, German Studies; Glenn Moulaison, Dean; WGS Faculty; Jack Zipes, Emeritus, University of Minnesota