Folk Studies master’s program facing suspension pending SACSCOC approval


Debra Murray, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Editor’s Note: This story was updated with clarification from the American Folklore Society.

WKU’s Master of Arts in Folk Studies program is facing suspension following a decision made by folk studies faculty earlier this month. The suspension is not official unless approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, WKU’s accrediting body.

“This decision was not made lightly and neither the faculty nor I wished the program to move to this conclusion,” Potter College of Arts and Letters Dean Terrance Brown said in an email sent to faculty.

Students in the program were “unofficially communicated” about the suspension on Monday, Oct. 10, according to the email. Current students will be able to complete the program as originally intended. Brown’s email states that a plan regarding the future of the MA in Folk Studies, Kentucky Folklife Program and the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology will be discussed and determined in the coming months.

According to the email, the suspension plan will be communicated to the accrediting body by Darlene Applegate, Folk Studies department chair, with help from Beth Laves, a SACSCOC liaison. Program suspensions resulting in “teach-out plans” must be approved by SACSCOC.

“As such, until our plan is approved by SACSCOC, I cannot provide any additional details at this time,” Brown wrote.

Jessica Turner and Marilyn White of the American Folklore Society shared that the faculty felt they had no choice than to suspend the program.

“While the folk studies faculty have made the difficult decision to suspend their program, they feel they have no choice but to do so given the reductions in faculty members and support over the past several years,” Turner and White said via email. “In other words, our colleagues are choosing to pause a program they feel they cannot serve well because of lost positions.”

Co-Editor-in-Chief Debra Murray can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy.