It may be a surprise for some UNB students to learn that the oldest department in the University—Classics and Ancient History—is merging with the History Department.
Dr. Lisa Todd, the chair of both departments emphasized the fact that “this is not History taking over Classics,” and that, throughout the merger, “we have certainly been keeping student interests at the very center of this process.”
To better understand why Classics and History are merging we must, fittingly, look into the past.
With eleven departments, the Faculty of Arts has had ongoing conversations about reducing its number of departments. Simultaneously, the Classics department has shrunk over the past ten years, with many professors retiring without replacements. As such, when COVID struck in 2020, the Faculty of Arts dean asked the then chair of history, Dr. Gary Waite, to also be the chair of Classics—which he agreed to.
After establishing a joint chair, the possibility of a merger between the two departments was proposed. As such, after a vote between the two departments last spring, the decision was made to begin merging the Classics and History departments.
Dr. Todd was adamant in adding that the merging is still underway, with roughly seven steps of approval required before becoming official—the process is currently on step five.
Another possible change to the Classics department that students may not be aware of is a shift from the Greco-Roman-centered “Classics” label to the more geographically inclusive “Ancient World Studies.” In fact, the History and Classics departments are currently in the process of hiring a new professor to teach courses on the wider ancient world—although no definitive decisions have been made.
Similarly, Dr. Todd emphasized the fact that these processes are still in the works, and not completely approved as of the publication of this article.
Despite Classics being the oldest department at UNB, the possibility of changing the name and scope of the department has been welcomed by those inside and outside the department.
Though, many are concerned about how this merger will affect student experiences. The biggest difference will be a possible name change for the two departments, from History and Classics to, “Historical Studies” —although this is in the works as well. Dr. Todd assured that the experience for students in both Classics and History will not change.
“You will still get a degree in History … your degree will not be in ‘Historical Studies.’”
Both Classics and History classes will remain separate, and no change to the teaching process will be made. Essentially the merger is logistical and concerns faculty more than students.
Both History and Classics have, “worked really hard to make sure students are not disrupted, and … have a lot more options and a stronger program than before,” according to Dr. Todd.