Faculty proposes new media school

By Melissa Prentice

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Journalism faculty members asked UA president Manuel Pacheco and the Arizona Board of Regents to create a new school of journalism and media arts, following a written proposal made last week.

The proposal to establish a new school including studies in mass communication, broadcast production, advertising, public relations and media law was presented to Pacheco Nov. 23, and he has not responded to the idea, said Jim Patten, journalism department head.

In October, Provost Paul Sypherd made a recommendation to Pacheco to eliminate the journalism, physical education and statistics departments at the University of Arizona. The Faculty Senate and the Arizona Board of Regents still have to vote on the fate of the departments.

The department asked Pacheco to appoint a committee of students, faculty and local professionals from the areas involved to design the school and asked that an off-campus mediator chair the committee and make periodic reports to the president and the regents.

“We are asking that a committee be created to design a new school of communication and information services, and the journalism department should be the nucleus of this department since we are already involved in teaching these skills,” journalism Professor Jacqueline Sharkey said to


the regents.

Journalism graduate student Tom Cyr also said the skills journalism teaches would make the department an effective base for establishing the new college.

“Critical thinking and writing skills are not antiquated skills of the past,” he said. “Although mass media will go through dynamic changes in the future, we will always need people to gather, analyze and report the news and think critically to handle the volume of news and information. The journalism department can be a nucleus of expertise and it would be a failure for the regents and the president not to act now with the available resources.”

The department also requested that it be removed from social and behavioral sciences and placed under humanities or fine arts until the new college is established.

“The water in SBS is pretty muddy now,” Patten said. “We really have more in common with fine arts. SBS is so research-dominated. It’s hard to function in a place where we’re seen as a professional program.”

He said the department has a lot in common with music, such as small classes, performance and practical knowledge.

At the regents’ meeting, students and faculty responded to Sypherd’s recent claims in columns in the Arizona Daily Wildcat and the Arizona Daily Star saying the journalism department was lacking in technological innovation.

Journalism junior Melanie Harrice said she has participated in a joint journalism and political science course where she used current technology such as numerous computer databases, the Internet and CD-ROMs on a daily basis to produce and layout a simulated national newspaper.

Sharkey said the department’s most recent accreditation report “praised the department’s technology in spite of lack of support from the university.”

She said the department had not been able to purchase computers until money was donated by alumni.

Patten said in a later interview, “It sounds like Sypherd thinks we are teaching typing.”

At the meeting, Norma Greer, a journalism sophomore, also said journalism is the second most cost-effective department in SBS, spending only $21,000 per year, and the university ultimately will save money by continuing to allow the department to teach classes to media arts and broadcast students.

Patten said the proposal has not yet been considered by any other department or program.

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