Resolution on Closing Folklore/Folklife


As the result of close consultation with the standing faculty of Folklore and Folklife and the School of Arts and Sciences' faculty advisory body, the Planning and Priorities Committee, the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences has recommended that the Department of Folklore and Folklife be closed at the end of the current academic year. While SAS will maintain an active program of graduate education and research in this field, the closure of the Department will allow the School to make more efficient use of its faculty, particularly in the area of undergraduate education.

Only a small handful American universities have freestanding graduate programs, research centers, or undergraduate majors in folklore, and Penn is one of only two institutions in the U.S. that continues to run a full-fledged department. Through retirements, deaths, and attrition, the faculty size of the Department has declined in recent years, and the number of undergraduate majors has diminished dramatically. Although the four standing faculty and three associated faculty in the Department did not initiate the closure, all have agreed to be transferred to other departments within SAS. The undergraduate major in Folklore and Folklife will be discontinued but will be grandfathered for the ten students in the College of Arts and Sciences and College of General Studies who have already declared it as their major. Undergraduate Folklore courses will continue to be offered through cross-listings, and the undergraduate minor in Folklore will remain intact.

The closure of the Department does not signal the end of Folklore studies at the University. Penn has an international reputation for scholarly excellence in Folklore graduate education and research, and SAS is committed to maintaining the Graduate Group in Folklore and Folklife and to keeping its Ph.D. program in full operation. The School will also establish a Center for Folklore and Ethnography that will serve as a vehicle for promoting faculty research in this field.

RESOLVED, that in accordance with the recommendation put forward by the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and subsequently endorsed by the President, Provost, and Academic Policy Committee of the Trustees, the Department of Folklore and Folklife be closed, effective July 1, 1999.

Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 1, July 13, 1999