History is a wonderful discipline, and I have great respect for those who teach and/or study it. However, does Cal Poly really need a master’s degree program in the discipline?

All the information I have gleaned from various news sources suggests that the nation’s most desperate need is for more well trained scientists and engineers. Cal Poly should concentrate on attracting and graduating more students in these areas. To the extent that we attract additional students here to study history, there will be less room for students in technical subjects.

I want our history department to thrive, but I also think we should focus our resources on what makes us unique and what we do best compared to other universities. There are already many excellent graduate programs in history elsewhere.

I also reject the notion that establishing a graduate program will compensate for high housing costs and low salaries in attracting faculty.

I’ll bet there are many historians out there who would love to locate at Poly and teach undergraduate history if salaries were more in line with the cost of living, even with the heavy teaching loads and deficiencies in infrastructure. My own department has been able to attract excellent faculty even without a graduate program (though our ability to continue to do so is being compromised by the state’s miserliness).

We considered one years ago and decided there were too many other places that could offer students a better experience.

Jay Devore

Professor and chair

department of statistics

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