The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures in its present form was created in 1968, with Reid (Lew) Micklesen as its first chair, followed in 1970 by Jack Haney and in 1977 by Davor Kapetanić. Karl Kramer assumed the chair in 1988 and held the position until 1998, with James Augerot replacing him as Acting Chair from December 1993 to September 1996. Jack Haney returned to the helm from 1998 to 2001, and was succeeded in November of that year by Galya Diment, who served through June 2012, before passing along the torch to current chair Katarzyna Dziwirek.
Bulgarian was first taught in 1965 and Romanian in 1970, and both these languages have been taught regularly from 1969-70, though every other year since the early 1990s. An intensive summer language program, introduced in 1952, now covers three and sometimes four years of Russian and, whenever possible, the first year of another Slavic language.
Since the introduction of graduate studies in 1954, 147 M.A. degrees and 59 doctorates have been awarded.
The Slavic Department is closely associated with the Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies Program, an interdisciplinary area studies program and National Resource Center in the Jackson School of International Studies. REECAS students study the languages of the Slavic and East European region in the department, which also provides the literature and culture component of their interdisciplinary degree programs. Slavic Department courses have with increasing frequency been cross-listed with other departments and programs, including Comparative Literature, Art History, Film Studies, Jewish Studies and Comparative History of Ideas.