Nicholas Goldberg: Where have all the English majors gone? An American in Vienna
By Nicholas Goldberg
The English Department of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, CA will soon lose the second-place finish it won in the 2010 Dean’s List rankings, placing it in the bottom 3% of U.S. colleges and universities and putting it one notch above the other universities in the bottom 5%. The dean’s list is an annual recognition process used by colleges to assess their academic rigor. This is good-bye to the third largest English department among our top 15 public universities; it is an absolute loss to the Commonwealth and the University. The last couple of years the department has been on the decline. It was on the verge of a complete disappearance in the U.S, in terms of faculty and student numbers and as one of our most prominent, distinguished and competitive departments. On top of that a lack of recognition of the department’s success and importance in the world of literary studies and literary criticism has also created a void in the world of literary studies. The department of English at the University was given a chance to shine in the last two years of its existence, but in the end it didn’t have the right mix of faculty and students. The English Department has been in a state of decline for the past few years and in the next few years the department will continue to decline. It has been a long time since we at the English Department had an opportunity to come back on top.
The decline of our department is a long-term phenomenon. For the past few years the English Department has been on the decline and it has been a long time since we have been able to come back on top. From the days when the department was one of the most prominent departments in the English Department at UVA we have had a chance to come back on top. It was a great opportunity but unfortunately our students and faculty weren’t able to come back on top. Many years ago when I arrived as a tenured professor here at VCU I was asked “Can we ever win back the department?” My answer back was a resounding yes. If we had been given this chance we would have made a comeback. I was able to help the English Department out of a crisis. I was able to put in tenured positions as a professor who is highly regarded in