Training citizens beyond undergraduate degrees is a bad thing?

I am so pleased that professor Devore from the statistics department acknowledges, in his letter to the editor (October 19), that “History is a wonderful discipline.”

I am also pleased to learn that statistics has been willing, for the greater good of engineering and science education and for our nation, to reject a graduate program of their own. Alas, we in the history department have only been attempting to live up to the Cal Poly Strategic Plan. How silly of us historians to think that Poly has a responsibility, beyond teaching undergraduates, to train further our county’s school teachers and citizens. How silly of us to imagine that students in existing MA programs on campus might benefit from some deeper and contextual analysis of our national mania for training scientists and engineers, and even statisticians. Finally, I am thrilled that professor Devore desires for “our history department to thrive,” although with friends like him, I suspect we don’t need any enemies.

George Cotkin

Professor and graduate coordinator for history

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