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Communication about Changes in HSS

Dear Colleagues: As you may know, there have been many changes in HSS this semester due to low or declining enrollments. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about these changes, so I’d like to take this opportunity to explain exactly what has, and has not, happened.

First, and most importantly, I want to assure you that none of these changes will affect students’ ability to graduate with a degree in their declared major in a timely manner. The college is committed to offering the courses students need to progress towards graduation.

World Languages & Cultures
French, German, European Languages & Cultures

Fact: We have had to make the difficult decision to close three world languages majors due to longstanding low enrollments in the majors, minors, and classes in these areas.

Correction: It has been reported that students in these programs will have to change majors or universities. This is incorrect. The HSS Student Success Resource Center and faculty advisors have worked with each student individually to ensure they can complete their degree in a timely manner.


Fact: The undergraduate and graduate Spanish programs are continuing, and we are doing everything we can to support the vitality of these programs.

Correction: There is a perception that “the Hispanic Heritage course” is being eliminated. This is incorrect. The Spanish B.A. requirements include a “Heritage Speaker Option” which has not been eliminated. However, at the request of the Spanish faculty, SPAN 310 (Spanish for Native Speakers), will not be offered in Fall 2022. Heritage speakers will be advised to take the course designed for non-native speakers, SPAN 301 (Spanish Grammar) instead. This will allow for more interaction of native and non-native speakers. This change is due to anticipated low enrollments in Fall 2022 and will be revisited in future semesters.

Asian Studies

Fact: The Asian Studies Liberal Arts major and the minors in Asian Studies, Chinese, and Japanese are continuing and we are doing everything we can to support the vitality of these programs.

Correction: There was some discussion between faculty and administration about potentially pausing the K-12 licensure programs in Japanese and Chinese due to extremely low enrollments and to help relieve the heavy teaching load for the Asian Studies faculty. However, no decisions have been made at this time. 

Other HSS Departments

New Programs: The following new programs were proposed by the faculty in recent years and have been approved:

  • English
    • BA Concentration in Writing, Editing, and Publishing
    • Accelerated “4+1” BA/MA in English
  • History
    • Accelerated “4+1” BA/MA in History

Under development: Faculty are always considering updates to curriculum. The major proposal currently under development by an interdisciplinary faculty working group is a BA in Applied Humanities.

Closures: In HSS, we have developed programs over the years and, as is part of our usual practice, we also have closed some programs at the request of the faculty in the unit. For example, we have closed some low-enrolled tracks within majors (such as the Strategic Communications emphasis within Journalism and Media Studies and the Public Policy emphasis in Economics). We also phased out graduate certificates and programs where there was little student demand (such as the M.A. in Communications and the graduate certificate in Geography Education).


Fact: Decreasing enrollments—some at UNC as a whole and some in HSS due to the 25% reduction  in the LAC — have led to a reduction in the number of course sections offered in some HSS departments. As a result, we have had to make the difficult decision not to renew the contracts of some Contract Renewable faculty and to reduce the FTE for some others. Please know that these decisions are being made across the university in response to programs in which enrollments have significantly decreased and that a total of three colleges had CR non-renewals for 2022-23.


  • Three Contract Renewable (CR) faculty were originally informed that their contracts would not be renewed for 2022-23, including: one (in Geography, GIS & Sustainability), who was hired explicitly on a one-year appointment; and two (Economics, Communication) CRs who have been at UNC for several years.
  • Five CRs in HSS were originally informed that their FTE would be reduced for 2022-23. Of those, one CR (in History) was later offered a full-time 1.0 position when a tenure-track faculty member announced his departure. Of the remaining three:
    • Two CRs (in Criminology & Criminal Justice) did not accept the offer of reduced FTE by the deadline provided. As a result, their contracts are not going to be renewed.
    • One CR (World Languages & Cultures) will help to teach out students in French on a reduced contract.
    • One CR (Anthropology) will be full-time in Fall 2022 but not renewed for Spring 2023 due to lack of course availability.

In all cases, these CR faculty could be re-considered for employment on either a part-time or full-time basis if enrollments warrant and they choose to return.


  • We are working with Chicano/a & Latinx Studies to ensure that staffing needs are met given the impending retirement of a senior faculty member. The Provost has made an explicit commitment to support the department’s needs and she and I are actively working with the faculty to ensure the search is approved.
  • Some students have expressed concern about tenured and tenure-track faculty teaching core courses. It is important that we reiterate that HSS always has taken pride in the fact that our tenured and tenure-track faculty regularly teach core courses and that this is part and parcel of our overall commitment to student success and to strengthening our majors in HSS.

In sum, there are many pressures on enrollments at UNC and in HSS specifically. I know all of us are working as hard as possible to ensure that we align our course offerings with courses students need to graduate in a timely fashion and have a high-quality educational experience, while at the same time supporting faculty and staff to be successful.

Thank you for your continued commitment to HSS, our colleagues, and our students.

Laura Connolly
Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences