Dear Faculty & Staff:
I am writing today regarding recent media attention that has prompted discussions about the LGBT studies minor that began earlier this year at our university.
Some media outlets have erroneously reported that UL Lafayette is offering a degree program or “major” for LGBT studies. The university offers no such degree program. A major or degree program entails approval from the UL Lafayette administration, the Board of Supervisors for the UL System and the state Board of Regents.
Minor areas of study are created by the academic faculty to address student interests. Minors consist of 18 credit hours (or 6 courses) and allow students to focus on a secondary area of academic or personal interest and often give graduates an advantage for the job market, especially in their chosen field. For example, a student may major in and be awarded a degree in civil engineering with a minor in a foreign language.
The university offers approximately 100 minors, including American politics, African-American studies, Cajun and Creole studies, child and family studies, Latin American studies, religious studies, and women’s studies, to name a few. Students are allowed to select their own minors.
The new minor in LGBT studies at UL Lafayette is in early development. As with any curricula, it will be reviewed and evaluated. The development of this new minor did not require budgetary allocations or divert resources from other areas as it allows students to choose from a list of nearly 100 existing courses across several disciplines. These courses include topics such as anthropology, criminal justice, health care, psychology, marriage and the family, social work, professional ethics and many others.
LGBT studies have been an academic area of study in the United States for nearly 50 years and exist at some 200 universities in the United States in a variety of forms as courses, minors or degree programs. Rooted in sociology, studies of human subgroups help prepare students for careers, such as counselors, personnel directors, teachers, social workers, criminal justice professionals, health care providers, managers and those involved in pastoral care.
Regardless of our personal feelings, as an academic institution, the university is obligated and committed to, within the law, the discovery and dissemination of knowledge, the protection of individual and group rights, and the preservation of religious and academic freedoms.
Our desired posture is to be neither advocate nor adversary on controversial social issues of the day. Rather, our responsibility is to provide in an impartial manner an opportunity for investigation, analysis and understanding.
E. Joseph Savoie