In coming years, Piedmont will potentially see the loss of a number of degree programs, starting immediately with the Spanish and Spanish education majors. However, there will soon be some new degree offerings, including Ed.S. (Education Specialist) degrees in art and music education starting next summer, as well as a new business concentration in hospitality and hotel management on the Athens campus next fall.
Students have had more to say about the demise of the Spanish majors than faculty and staff.
“I came to Piedmont because they offered Spanish degrees, and when I found out that wasn’t the case due to the absence of a full-time Spanish professor, I was shocked,” sophomore nursing major and president of the Spanish club Emily West said. “That is what sparked me to create a Spanish Club here on campus. Part of our mission statement is: ‘receive accreditation and acknowledgment from the AATSP (American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese).’”
West said she is still determined to graduate with a Spanish minor.
“This year I have been working with the college to make that possible,” she said. “Since we do not offer the courses needed to complete the Spanish minor program, I will be completing my minor at UNG (University of North Georgia) next semester.”
Students who came to Piedmont as freshmen in 2014 found at the end of their sophomore year that there were no longer any upper level Spanish classes available. Many of those students, now seniors, may not finish their minors, unless they can afford to go on the Maymester trip to Peru.
“I’m graduating in three weeks, and I was supposed to be graduating with a minor in Spanish,” senior marketing and management major Alex Childers said. “I needed one more class. However, Piedmont didn’t offer a course at the level that I needed. It was disappointing and very frustrating.”
The president’s office and the humanities department declined to comment. According to Dean of Arts and Sciences Steve Nimmo, the college hopes to hire a full-time Spanish professor, and eventually there will be some upper level Spanish courses offered here.
“Probably not until fall of 2019, being realistic,” Nimmo said. “When that begins it will only be one class per semester.”
For now, Nimmo said he is working with students who are trying to finish their minors, and that Piedmont’s first priority is to be responsible stewards of students’ tuitions.
Sophomore Makayla Kennedy, now a political science major and German minor, said that for her, Piedmont failed in that responsibility.
“What Piedmont did was not right,” Kennedy said. “I chose this school over other schools that also offer a Spanish major, under the stipulation too that I could get a Spanish degree here. As soon as they knew that there wasn’t a prospect of getting another Spanish teacher, at least in that timeframe, they should have told me.”
Instead, Kennedy said she remained a registered Spanish major for her entire first semester at Piedmont, until she tried to test out of lower level classes and found there was no professor to teach any higher level Spanish courses.
“I had been planning to exempt out of Spanish 1101, 1102 and 2201,” Kennedy said. “I was confident in my abilities then to be able to do that.”
Kennedy has been learning to speak Spanish since she was a child. In high school, she interned at an interpreting agency.
“I translated birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, affidavits of support for people who were trying to gain their citizenship,” Kennedy said. “I was able to read and translate all of those. I wanted to be a legal interpreter. That was going to be my profession, my life.”
Since then, Kennedy said, she has lost almost all of her Spanish speaking ability. She is happy now with her new major, but she said she was angry and disappointed at the time, since she was registered as a Spanish major and had completed a Compass point, yet no one had told her.
“I figured it out on my own, pretty much,” Kennedy said. “No one came to me or sent me an email that said, ‘hey, I’m terribly sorry we can’t offer this to you anymore, let us know if there is anything we can help you with on that path.’ I think I deserved that.”