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I learned that the WVU Board of Governors decided to remove the BA in religious studies from the university's offerings, along with several other BAs in humanities.
In the following statement, I would like to ask the distinguished members of the Board to reconsider this decision and to find other ways to address the issues that led them to this decision.
The Institute for Scientific Study of Religions at the University of Szeged has had an intense collaboration with the WVU Religious Studies program for more than 10 years.
Our university has an international agreement with WVU for the exchange of teachers and students, whereby our students and teachers have benefited from the fruits of this cooperation.
The religious studies program of the SZTE has been enriched by lectures and courses given by WVU teachers.
We had a student who spent an entire semester at WVU, which not only contributed to her learning about the main trends in American religious studies but also to completing her doctoral dissertation in English this year, which was greatly helped by the faculty of WVU's Religious Studies program.
With WVU's BA program, we have been exploring for several years the possibility of establishing the world's first intercontinental and interfaith joint degree in religious studies at a university in Southeast Asia.
This is a major innovation, guaranteed by collaboration with the excellent staff of WVU's Religious Studies program.
We live in an age when understanding and professionally assessing global and regional religious phenomena requires knowledge and approach in the field of religious studies.
This is of hardly debatable importance for the cultivation and maintenance of a culture of tolerance in universities and society as well.
Thanking WVU for its cooperation to date and reaffirming our clear intention to continue it, I respectfully ask the Board to back away from the discontinuation of the Religious Studies program, and rather to see its potential for innovation and continue offering it.
András Máté is a Professor for Study on Religions at University Szeged, which has been a contracted parter of WVU's Religious Studies Program since 2003.