Marymount University eliminates 10 degrees, including English, history, theology

Director of Communications Nick Munson told Campus Reform that the eliminated degrees 'are simply not ones that are in demand.'

The politicization of the humanities and social sciences may be partly to blame for the general trend in lower enrollment rates.

The Board of Marymount University unanimously voted on Friday to eliminate ten degree programs in the humanities and social sciences, including English, History, and Theology and Religious Studies.

Founded as the first Catholic college in Virginia in 1950, Marymount is affiliated with the Sacred Heart of Mary and serves approximately 3,500 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs.

Although Marymount is eliminating nine undergraduate majors and one master’s program, the school will now offer a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, which will allow students to specialize in a particular humanities or social science discipline.

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Director of Communications Nick Munson told Campus Reform, “These programs are simply not ones that are in demand,” citing the 74 students who are currently in the eliminated programs, 24 of whom are graduating in 2023.

The more than 2,000 students, former faculty, and alumni who have signed the petition to keep these degree offerings, however, are more concerned with the personal rather than monetary value these degrees provide.

“The competencies and skills learned through the arts, humanities, and social sciences,” reads the petition, “enable each student to bring positive change to their communities in their personal and professional lives.”

One of the signatories of the petition contends, “The humanities are public goods, not profit margin barriers. It’s not as if cutting majors means humanities classes won’t be taught [but] these classes will simply become underfunded and [under supported].”

Campus Reform has previously reported that the politicization of the liberal arts is partly to blame for the view that the humanities are valueless, resulting in decreasing enrollment.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) told Campus Reform in 2019 that “[o]ne of the reasons for collapsing enrollments in majors like history is that fewer historians are teaching the meaningful, ‘big picture’ courses—the kind that cultivate real understanding of the American democracy and Western civilization.”

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The decline of the humanities is attributable to “identity politics [which] is a self-inflicted wound that has rocked its credibility,” according to ACTA.

Data also suggests that students are flocking to institutions with reputations for a classical, Christian approach to the liberal arts and are increasingly interested in classical alternatives, including substituting the Classical Learning Test (CLT) in place of the SAT.

As the Director of Admissions at Hillsdale College, Zachary Miller, told Campus Reform, “[T]he essentials of questions like what does it mean to be human” are never “going to be out of style.”

Munson provided an official statement to Campus Reform upon the final decision of the vote, saying, “Marymount will always be dedicated to the education of the whole person. Every one of these foundational subjects remain part of our core curriculum, which supports our mission and Catholic identity.”

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