An open letter to Provost Cole

Dear Provost Cole,

I recently learned about your decision to terminate the Chinese Language program at Allegheny, and thus, terminate Professor Xiaoling Shi’s tenured position. Although I have been graduated for almost five years, and am not completely knowledgeable about the situation, Professor Shi’s account of the process and decision is troubling to say the least.

According to Professor Shi, the Faculty Council’s Task Force Report recommended maintaining the Chinese program in December of 2021, but a month later, you decided to go against the Task Force’s recommendation and take action unilaterally. Again, this is according to Professor Shi, but during my four years at Allegheny College, Professor Shi embodied integrity, honesty and selflessness both in and outside of the classroom. Along with Professor Shi’s personal character, her dedication to the education of her students is unlike anything I have seen in primary, undergraduate, and graduate education. I would hope that if you have not spoken in depth with any of her current or former students, you seek first-hand accounts that I guarantee will corroborate my statement.

Aside from terminating Professor Shi, the decision to terminate the Chinese Language program in the current global environment is incomprehensible to say the least. Considering the military, economic, and political relationships that the United States and China have, the absolute necessity for the United States’ next generation of leaders from Allegheny College to have an understanding of Chinese language and culture is paramount. I simply cannot comprehend a decision-making process that decides to terminate the Chinese language program in the current
global environment, and I would welcome any explanation to help alumni understand this decision.

I look forward to a response from you, and hopefully, an explanation on your decision to terminate the Chinese Language program, and subsequently, a tenured professor in Xiaoling Shi.

Kevin Orr is a 2017 graduate and a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army.