Letter in Support of Howard University Classics

The Classical Association of New England (CANE), a disciplinary organization with more than 300 members who teach and study Classics throughout the region, and the Officers and State Representatives thereof, stand united in our opposition to the decision by Howard University to eliminate its Classics program and to terminate the employment of all non-tenured or non-contracted faculty and associated staff. We likewise stand together in solidarity with those same faculty and staff, and the students, past and present, of Howard University who have written persuasively in support of preserving the Classics Department in light of the profound impact it has had not only on its own faculty and students, but on the larger community of scholars throughout the country and the world, since the University’s founding over 150 years ago.

As a regional organization dedicated to “to embracing not only the traditional understanding of Classics as encompassing the Greek- and Roman-centered narratives of antiquity, but also the perspectives of scholars and cultures previously under-represented and under-explored in the past several centuries of classical scholarship” CANE recognizes and affirms how important Classics departments at institutions such as Howard, the only Historically Black College or University that still has one, are to the study and understanding of the ancient Mediterranean world. The elimination of this department and the concomitant loss of present and future Classicists at Howard would further deprive the academic community of invaluable perspectives of Black and other underrepresented scholars, precisely at a time when the field of Classics is finally awakening to the enormous value of their contributions. 

More importantly, it would be a terrible disservice to current and future Howard students, denying them the opportunity to freely explore the languages, history, art, literature, philosophies, and material culture of the ancient Mediterranean world. Courses in Classics are opportunities for students to gain new perspectives on the hegemonic cultural, philosophical, religious, and political ideas of the ancient civilizations which, for better or worse, have had a profound influence on the present world we inhabit. Students in Classics have the opportunity to reconsider and analyze these influences and critically engage with the past and present as we work to construct a better future.

Classics was integral to Howard University at its founding and the outpouring of support from the students and the community demonstrates that it is just as relevant to the students of Howard University today as ever. Therefore, we hope that you, the governing entities of Howard University, will preserve your Classics department, and keep true to the institution’s stated educational mission (not coincidentally written in Latin) of “Veritas et Utilitas.”


The Officers and State Representatives of the Classical Association of New England

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