The Classics Advisory Service helps college and university teachers maintain and strengthen their programs in Classics (broadly understood to include Greek and Latin languages and literatures, history, archaeology, and all other aspects of classical civilization). Among the services we provide are assistance with external Program Reviews, and advice and support for strengthening current programs and preserving threatened programs. The SCS now also provides guidelines for establishing and improving undergraduate programs.
The general assault on higher education, which is part financial and part ideological, has important consequences for Classics. The financial assault, which is especially threatening to public institutions, hurts Classics and other small programs which do not fare well when compared to larger programs by the quantitative measures favored by American business management. The ideological assault may fault Classics either because as a conservative (Western, male, imperialist, etc.) subject it has long served a social and academic elite, or because it, along with other humanistic disciplines, incorporates subversive activities like "theory."
There is no single solution to meeting these threats, but among the strategies that have proven effective are the following.
Understand financial conditions and tailor your needs accordingly. This involves learning about:
- the budgetary situation of your institution and any institutions that directly affect it, such as the state or local community that supports a public institution or the church that supports a religious institution.
- the financial structure of your institution. Where does funding come from? Who controls or influences funding sources?
- other funding sources. Are there special funds in the institution (not necessarily in Classics) that could be used for Classics-related activities? What groups or individuals in the state or local community might be interested (or become interested) in supporting a Classics activity?
Once you understand financial conditions you may want to modify your priorities. For example, if money is available for technological resources but not for library books, look for technology that will benefit Classics; don't abandon requests for books, but supplement them with other efforts. Or, if a local military buff can be induced to fund a conference on ancient warfare, it may be good for your program to organize such a conference even if you have little interest in the subject.
Understand the power structure of your institution. Who makes important decisions? What are their interests? As in the preceding, look for ways to take advantage of special interests of these decision-makers.
Know your constituencies. At first you may think only of students in your courses, but Classics can also serve
- Faculty and students in many other areas
- Secondary school teachers and students
- The community
To the extent that you do serve these constituencies, they can be called on for support in times of need. For example, helping high-school Latin teachers strengthen their programs may not only provide you with some better prepared entering freshmen but with additional supporters in the community (teachers, students and parents). In this regard you should join and work with all relevant organizations, especially local, state and regional associations of Classics teachers. Information about these can be found from the SCS Home Page.
- Build connections, especially with other departments and programs that are strong on campus. The field of Classics offers almost unlimited possibilities for making connections with other areas. Even professional schools like business (the ancient economy), medicine (Ancient medicine), and law (Greek or Roman law) can find connections with Classics. Seek out strong faculty and programs and look for ways to work together. Be creative and you can not only make your own programs more interesting but at the same time can generate important support for Classics elsewhere on campus.
Follow these links for more specific information about:
- Reports from 2011-2019 can be viewed within the Vice President of Professional Matters Reports
Send comments toJeffrey J. Henderson
William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of Greek
Department of Classical Studies
745 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215