Daily Israel Report

Only College Hebrew Classes in North Texas Face Imminent Closure

After 10 years of being only the university in North Texas to offer Hebrew classes, North Texas U. has decided to eliminate its program.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 4/10/2012, 2:34 PM

Learning Hebrew in Ulpan
Learning Hebrew in Ulpan
Israel news photo: Flash 90

After ten years of being the only university in the North Texas area that offered Hebrew studies, the University of North Texas has decided to eliminate the program due to low enrollment, NT Daily reported.

“Our numbers are not great, because it’s not French or Spanish,” said Ruth Precker, the adjunct professor hired in 2002 to teach Hebrew. “But we had steady numbers around 30 or 35 for the first year and around 12 for the second year. The university is not thrilled with the numbers.”

“The Hebrew program has not been doing well for many years now,” Koop said. “In order for a course to be funded, you have to have 12 students in the undergrad level. It was getting to the point where we barely had 10 students the last two semesters. We tried to give it a chance. First we offered modern Hebrew, then biblical Hebrew in the hope we could recruit more students. Unfortunately, it didn’t make a difference.”

When students heard that the classes were going to be eliminated, they decided to write a petition, requesting that the university reconsider canceling the program.

“At least keep the program one more year for the upper level students, because the students who take Hebrew take it for a very specific reason,” said Kevin Safarik, philosophy junior and Hebrew student. “We aren’t in it for the credit; we desire to learn the language.” 

The students are concerned that the program’s imminent closure will result in their inability to complete their second year of studies for the university’s language requirements. Precker said the students who only had a year of language are being told they can take any class in the Jewish Studies department to get their last year of language credit.

“I am under the impression that there might be reevaluation because of the 11 students who signed the petition,” Koop said. “I haven’t received a response yet, but it is never too late.”