June 26, 2012

The recent Post reports [“Budget issues led to removal of U-Va. president,” Metro, June 17] that the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors wanted to get rid of what members considered “underperforming” departments, such as classics, philosophy and German, distressed this former classics major. If teaching the basics of the foundation of Western civilization isn’t good enough, the exquisite irony of deleting classics and philosophy at Thomas Jefferson’s university should have made the board think twice.

Here are just a few of the many advantages of studying the classics:

●Learning critical-thinking skills from the guys who invented critical thinking (Plato, Socrates, Aristophanes and Euripides, to name but a few);

●Understanding the reasons countries go to war, by studying the Peloponnesian War;

●Learning what “crossing the Rubicon” means; and

●Finding out that Nike is not just a brand of shoes.

Classics majors also know why Virgil went to hell, and why Dante used Virgil as his guide. We know all of the things that were inaccurate in the movies “Gladiator,” “Troy” and “300.” And we know where Athens, Troy, Persepolis and Syracuse are on maps both ancient and modern.

Must everything at universities be ruled by the small-minded, bean-counter types? Schools would have plenty of money for worthy endeavors if they used it wisely.

Kathleen Cooper, Alexandria

Regarding James Ceaser’s June 24 Outlook commentary, “How would Jefferson fix U-Va.?”:

The University of Virginia needs its old president and a new Board of Visitors. Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) can show decisive leadership now if he reinstates Teresa Sullivan as president of the school and replaces everyone on the current board.

Obviously, none of the current members of the board can be effective from here on out. What a huge embarrassment for the university and the state of Virginia. Mr. Governor, step up to the plate.

Carl Cox, Ashburn