PCAL Dean Brown planned to create two faculty positions in Folk Studies prior to pending suspension


Debra Murray, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Editor’s Note: This story was updated with further clarification from Dean Terrance Brown.

Potter College of Arts and Letters Dean Terrance Brown intended to create two faculty positions in the upcoming academic years in the Folk Studies graduate program that is now awaiting approval for suspension, according to an email Brown sent to President Timothy Caboni and Provost Bud Fischer. 

This email was shared with the Herald by Jace Lux, director of media relations. 

Brown said in the email that he intended to fund an instructor level to serve the Kentucky Folk Life Program and the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology in the 2024 academic year. 

Brown also offered another tenure-track position beginning in the 2025 academic year if the program would grow its enrollment by four students.

“The MA in Folk Studies has a strong 50-year history,” Brown said in an email. “The work of the program and it’s faculty is respected nationally and internationally. They take great pride in their work and their ability to transform the lives of individuals within the Commonwealth and beyond. The decision to suspend the program was based on the unfortunate place where available resources meet program excellence and sustainability. The faculty are fierce protectors of their program and I support this protection. With this, we all met together to decide next steps forward. We have some plans in the works, but in the end we all want what’s best for the program and it’s students. Our Folk Studies faculty, staff, and students are good people with good hearts, and an undying passion for the program. I respect them and look forward to working through this difficult time together to forge a path forward.”

When asked about the faculty’s decision, Brown said that he didn’t have any further information on why the faculty decided to suspend the program.

“Regrettably, this offer was not amenable to the faculty, and they elected to suspend the program,” Brown said in the email.

The suspension of the program is not official until approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, WKU’s accrediting body. The “teach-out plans” must also be approved by SACSCOC. Faculty have been advised “to be cautious” when discussing plans widely until we receive clearance from SACSCOC. 

The 11 students enrolled in the program will be able to complete their degree as intended if “teach-out plans” are approved.  

“It was my hope that we could use temporary positions to meet instructional needs during the next academic year with a goal of adding an additional tenure-track position the following year, and I offered to support the initiative with additional advertising and marketing resources to achieve the modest goal,” Brown said. “Sadly, the faculty determined this was not a feasible option.” 

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