Georgetown: Restore U.S. Foreign Education, Language Funds
July 18, 2011 – Professors Madeleine Albright and Chuck Hagel, a bipartisan team with careers in diplomacy and national security, are among university leaders and faculty members asking Congress to restore funding for federal international education and foreign language studies programs.
In a July 15 op-ed in USA Today, the former secretary of state and former senator from Nebraska argue that a recently proposed cut in U.S. Department of Education funding for such programs was a “a grievous last minute mistake.”
“In the context of billions and even trillions of cuts being discussed, a $50 million reduction sounds insignificant,” write Albright and Hagel. “But this particular $50 million cut from the Department of Education’s budget amounted to a 40 percent reduction in the relatively small account that supports these programs at higher education institutions across the United States.”
Threat to Security
“This is a dramatic cut that will have long-lasting and serious consequences" – the professors argue in the op-ed, “it not only threatens the nation’s diplomatic, intelligence, and national security capacities, but also our ability to maximize our competitiveness in global markets."
The cuts target what are known as Title VI and Fulbright-Hays funds in the budget of the U.S. Department of Education.
Albright serves as Georgetown’s Mortara Distinguished Professor of Diplomacy at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service (SFS) and Hagel is a Distinguished Professor of National Governance at SFS.
The professors also note in USA Today that “former students in programs supported by this funding have gone on to distinguished careers in the U. S. military, in various intelligence agencies, and in our diplomatic corps.”
Georgetown President John J. DeGioia is also encouraging Congress to restore the funding. He and Michael A. McRobbie, president of Indiana University, wrote a letter signed by 86 college and university presidents from across the nation to leaders of both the U.S. House and Senate Committee on Appropriations on July 12.
“…we firmly believe these programs to be a strategic investment in our nation’s security and economic well-being,” the university presidents write.
Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service is well known for its rigorous education of students by scholars with real-world experience in international affairs.
More than a quarter of Georgetown’s undergraduate students in the College major or minor in a foreign language, and many of them go on to serve in a wide variety of fields throughout the world.
“…Our nation continues to face a dangerously short supply of Americans with in-depth knowledge of the world regions and fluency in foreign languages and their cultures,” DeGioia and McRobbie write.
The university’s three National Resource Centers on the Middle East, East Asia, and Eurasian, Russian and East European Affairs, are funded through the Title VI program and include a strong elementary and secondary (K-12) outreach component.
“Georgetown is responding to cuts in current-year funding in creative ways to minimize their impact on coursework, research and outreach programs that are of great value,” said Scott S. Fleming, associate vice president for federal relations, “especially to K-12 educators in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and as far away as Colorado. But another year of reduced funding will pose even greater challenges.”