OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 10:39 AM PT – Thursday, March 9, 2023
Marymount University, a private Catholic University in northern Arlington, Virginia, has decided to make several cuts to its curriculum and programs.
The school has moved to cut bachelor’s degrees in theology and religious studies, philosophy, mathematics, art, history, sociology, English, economics and secondary education, as well the master’s program in English and humanities.
Students will still be required to study those subjects as part of the school’s other programs. However, they will no longer be able to select those areas of study for their majors.
The decision to cut the areas of study was made final on February 24th, when the university’s board of trustees unanimously voted 20-0 in support of the plan. According to Fox News, the school claimed that “this decision reflects not only our students’ needs, but our responsibility to prepare them for the fulfilling, in-demand careers of the future.”
The cuts at the university have led to continued protests from enraged students who felt that their concerns were brushed aside by school officials.
Student-government president Ashly Trejo Mejia wrote a letter to the school’s president explaining the students’ concerns.
“Cutting portions of the School of Humanities as well as math and art programs would be detrimental to the diversity of our student body,” the letter said. “We fear that removing programs will alter the foundation and identity Marymount University was built on.”
However, the school released a statement which argued that the elimination of the majors will not impact the university’s mission or foundation.
“Marymount will always be dedicated to the education of the whole person,” the statement read. “Every one of these foundational subjects remain part of our core curriculum, which supports our mission and Catholic identity. All University programs will continue to be grounded in the liberal arts and the Marymount University Board, President and Cabinet remain committed to continuously improving the student experience.”
Grace Kapacs, a communications major, said that the cut to the curriculum would cause potential students to reconsider attending the university.
“The first thing you do when you go to a school is you look at those majors they have,” Kapacs said. “And you compare it to the other schools you’re looking at. And you’re like, ‘Damn, this is the only one that doesn’t have English, math. Wait, it doesn’t have English or math? Hold on. That’s weird. That’s shady. That doesn’t sound like a good institution.’”
“We’re angry because this is a Catholic school and how could you get rid of a theology major? And others were angry because our schools [were] built on a liberal arts core, and it’s in our mission statement,” Kapacs added. “Others were angry because they got a degree in the humanities there, and now they’re doing great things in the world, and they feel like others are going to miss out.”
A spokesperson for the school addressed the students’ concerns saying that sessions will be held with students in order for them to express and discuss their concerns with school officials.
“Multiple information sessions are actually being held this week with students as they will have the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns directly with Marymount administrators, including the president and the provost,” the spokesperson said. “Last week, a town hall meeting was also held with faculty and staff.”
The changes made to the curriculum have brought together students from different backgrounds in protest. Liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans had gathered together in protest. According to students, many of the professors are also against the move made by the school, however they are staying quiet on the issue.
According to Fox News, Bishop Michael Burbidge who is entrusted to make sure that schools in the Diocese of Arlington stay true to their Catholic identity and instruction was informed of the decision but was not asked for his input. However, the bishop has accepted the decision made by the school.
“It is our understanding that, despite not having a major or minor program for theology, there would still be required theology classes in the curriculum,” the diocese said. “Bishop Burbidge will continue to work with the leadership of Marymount in matters related to the Catholic identity of the university.”
Marymount University was founded in 1950 in Arlington, Virginia as a two-year women’s Catholic school before expanding to become a university with around 4,000 enrolled students.