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The Undergraduate Council of the Academic Senate recently voted to temporarily suspend admissions to the College of Creative Studies Literature major, effective Fall 2014, following a request from Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas to consider suspending CCS Literature admissions dated Dec. 20, 2013.
The Undergraduate Council voted on the suspension as a temporary measure to provide time for the program to address alleged issues in program leadership, Senate faculty involvement and development of the program’s relationships with other departments. The release cites the 2012-2013 Program Review Process report as well as the 2012-2013 External Review Committee as indicators of the CCS Literature program’s need to increase their number of ladder-ranked faculty, improve curriculum planning and administration and form better relationships with cognate departments. However, no students currently enrolled in the major will be affected by the new freeze.
According to College of Creative Studies Dean Bruce Tiffney, the hold on admissions for 2014 will provide time for resources to “be aligned in a sustainable manner” in order to improve the program in coming years.
“The structure of CCS allows students … a unique opportunity to use the resources of a world-renowned campus,” Tiffney said in an email. “Developing strong relations with faculty in cognate departments will broaden these opportunities in future years. This integration will enhance creative endeavors among CCS students working with faculty outside the College as well as within.”
Chancellor Henry T. Yang also said the suspension is only temporary and that the Undergraduate Council’s report on the suspension will be on the agenda of a Faculty Legislature meeting taking place next Thursday, March 13.
“It is worth noting that this temporary suspension would not affect the course of study of currently enrolled Literature students,” Yang said in an email.
But while College of Creative Studies Records Assistant Frank Bauman also said that the program will not be cancelled, he also said it is unlikely an appeal will be lodged.
“The Academic Senate voted to freeze admissions to the program, pending improvements,” Bauman said in an email. “Something was said about the possibility of their decision being appealed, but no one seems too optimistic about this.”
Despite administrative statements assuring the CCS Literature program will not be cancelled, many CCS Literature faculty and alumni have expressed frustration with the decision and even contest that the admissions freeze is in fact a transition phase into the program’s dissolution. CCS Literature professor Shirley Lim, for instance, said that she declined to elaborate on the situation due to her anger toward the situation.
“I have nothing positive to say about the suspension and only scathing observations to make of the current events,” Lim said in an email.
Likewise, alumni like CCS Literature graduate from 1991 and current Community Manager of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Tony Pierce said the admissions suspension is simply a step in the Academic Senate’s path to the CCS Literature program’s eventual cancellation.
“The worst part about it is they won’t be honest about it. They won’t say what their problem truly is,” Pierce said. “One of the things they wrote is that CCS Lit kids don’t go to Letters & Sciences as much as they want them to … if you want it that badly, make the requirement. Instead you’ve got to freeze out all CCS on your road to totally dismantling it?”
CCS Literature program graduate from 1979 and current textbook writer with a Master’s in English from UC Berkeley Robyn Raymer said the PRP report reveals that Tiffany knew in August 2013 that the CCS Literature program needed to get more ladder faculty teachers into their faculty and had “six or seven months to do that,” but did not.
“I don’t understand why there was a gap of six to seven months, and I don’t think it’s the fault of the lecturers,” Raymer said. “I don’t understand why the CCS Lit program — distinguished for over 50 years — is getting punished for just going on the way it was and still having really good teachers. It’s not just that there’s not enough ladder faculty.”
Pierce agreed and said the potential cancellation of the CCS Literature program is based on administrative issues involving views that are misguided and problematic.
“Santa Barbara has this one jewel that, instead of saying, ‘Wow look at that thing sparkle,’ They’re like, ‘Oh, it’s blinding me! It’s blinding me! It’s making all my other things look like shit,’” Pierce said.
According to Pierce, the cancellation would be detrimental to the university and its current possession of a one-of-a-kind, self-motivated, creative program.
“There’s nothing like it in all of the USA. There is no college or any university where you can truly be a creative person and not be punished for trying new things,” Pierce said. “Unfortunately, when you try to break boundaries in letters and science … you’re punished. With CCS, you’re rewarded, and there’s nothing like that in UCSB.”
This story appeared as an online exclusive on Friday, March 7, 2014.