I'll be graduating this Saturday, so good luck to you all in this transition to the new history program. Those interested in staying in touch with me can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This new degree will be primarily received by other institutions as either a history or a cultural studies degree -- literature will be understood to be secondary since it's not mentioned in the title of the program. That's a predictable outcome given the reviewers' praise of the M.H.L. program and hostility to English.
What was very amusing to me in the reviews was that excuses were made for the M.H.L. program (such as limited resources) that also applied to the English dept. program -- but weren't mentioned in the English dept. review. That the job market was cited as a reason for ending the English dept. grad program but the review still had to admit Drew English grads got jobs in similar institutions (how many jobs are out there for "history and culture" Ph.D.'s? Anyone do a study?). That -- and this is possibly the dumbest reason of all -- other departments at Drew complained about a grad program in English when their programs don't have a grad program. How does a history and culture grad program solve this problem?
Furthermore, since M.H.L. faculty and students had a positive attitude toward the process from the beginning, it seems clear that they were told what the outcome of process would be ahead of time, probably even before admissions to the programs were suspended. The review process was canned -- it was a sham. The results were decided before the review process began. The entire process smacks of duplicity and dishonesty from beginning to end. Perhaps that is the only way this could have happened, but it's very hard for me to walk away from all this with any respect for those involved.
While I have serious problems with the way this transition was carried out, hopefully the end product will be good. During my entire time at Drew I've always wanted English to work more closely with MHL, even to the point that I wished courses in the M.H.L. program were made mandatory for English grad students (say, historiography, or period history surveys, or intellectual history). M.H.L. faculty are more than competent and have a great deal to offer students in the English program. I don't think I was the only person who desired this, and many more were probably open to the possibility.
What this should tell you is that the duplicity behind this process was probably unnecessary. Yes, no doubt some would be resistant to change. But how we do things is just as important as what we are doing. The Drew Board and President, unfortunately, don't seem to undestand this.
But I guess that's what you get when you buy into business models: the mentality that gave the world Enron and Worldcom, Savings and Loans scandals, and all the other ways of making a quick buck with little forethought, accountability, or dignity.