"We want to strategically realign resources and strengths currently existing on the CU-Boulder campus to ensure that course and degree offerings meet the needs of students, the labor market, our campus mission and the communications needs of a rapidly changing global society," Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano stated in a news release. "News and communications transmission as well as the role of the press and journalism in a democratic society are changing at a tremendous pace. We must change with it."
CU says it plans to form an exploratory committee on Sept. 1 to make recommendations on how to form a new academic unit that can keep pace with the ever-changing face of communications and media.
"Many of our peer universities have already responded to the challenges of the networked Information Age in different ways," Provost Russell Moore stated in the release. "More than 30 schools and colleges have been created across the nation to respond to the changing media and communications digital landscape including UC-Berkeley, Washington, Rutgers, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Michigan and Wisconsin."
CU says the new vision has been discussed at the Boulder campus for a number of years.
Journalism school Dean Paul Voakes said most faculty see it as an opportunity to finally redefine journalism education at CU for the 21st century, as more people keep themselves informed online.
One student says he feels what he is learning is more important than what the school is called.
"You're still being a watchdog for the government and all that stuff. As long as that stuff is still being taught effectively, I don't think it really matters if it's in the school of journalism or the school of anything else," student Brian Little said.
Doug Looney, a former advisory board chair, thinks changing the program is the best decision, even if it is about half a decade behind.
"It's a great faculty to teach journalism in the 1950s," he said. "What they're doing, they're gonna burn down the journalism school. They're gonna haul off the debris which is gonna include a lot of tenured professors. Then they're going to smooth over the lot and then they're going to figure out they want to do with the new space.
The exploratory committee, filled with five or six non-journalism school faculty who haven't been named yet, will forward recommendations to the provost by the end of the fall semester. The chancellor would make a recommendation to the board of regents, based on reports from both committees, early next year. Regents would have the final say whether to discontinue the journalism school.
Jeffrey Cox, Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Affairs, said a key question is whether the j-school can keep serving students or if CU would be better off realigning faculty and financial resources.
An open forum will be held in September for faculty and students who have questions about the program's discontinuance.
All undergraduate and graduate students currently admitted to the school will be able to complete their degrees, school officials say.
The journalism school has 647 undergraduate students, 58 in the master's degree program and 26 doctoral students, CU said.
The school has 28 faculty members who could be moved elsewhere, perhaps to the new program, depending on what the committees recommend.
CU's journalism school is going through the reaccreditation process, which happens every six years. Voakes said the school's record over the past six years would be subject to review and that accreditation teams seems interested in whether schools are considering innovative ways of teaching media.
(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)