By Melissa Prentice
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Students who are turned away from the closing UA journalism and physical education departments may turn to other state schools Ä but officials say those schools cannot handle the growth.
Last week, Provost Paul Sypherd recommended to President Manuel Pacheco that the journalism, statistics and physical education departments be phased out over the next two to four years.
Neither Arizona State University nor Northern Arizona University has statistics departments, but both offer statistics classes through math and other departments.
The journalism and physical education departments at both schools are concerned that many students will enter their programs after the UA departments close. The more than 300 journalism and 250 physical education undergraduates who are currently majoring in the departments will be allowed to finish at the UA, but no new students will be allowed to enter the programs.
The ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Telecommunications already has more students than it can handle, said Deputy Director Frederic Leigh.
If students begin a rapid influx into the department, he said the school may consider initiating a "selective admissions" process where students must apply for admission their junior year. The school's current enrollment, almost 1,100 students, is among the highest in the university.
Leigh said the school has been supportive of maintaining the UA journalism department, but added that if necessary the UA could consider broadening the focus of the journalism department to include not only journalism, but also broadcasting, public relations and photo journalism. ASU's school currently offers all these options.
A similar proposal to combine journalism with communications, media arts and library sciences was considered at the UA, but was not included in the final decision.
NAU, which offers journalism as part of the college of creative and communications arts, said they are unsure of the number of students who will transfer to the school, said Martin Sommerness, the director of the college's academic services. He said a few students who "felt they were on a sinking ship" have already transferred from the UA.
Although NAU currently allows students to transfer only 12 units of journalism credit, Sommerness said the department is making arrangements for UA students who want to transfer.
He said the NAU journalism department survived a similar threat two years ago, and still advocates programs at all three universities.
"If there is a room for a fourth college in the state, there is plenty of room for three journalism departments," he said.
About 80 junior and senior students have been accepted to the NAU journalism program and about 100 other freshmen and sophomores have entered the communications department to pursue the degree. About 800 students are enrolled in the various communications degrees including photography, advertising, broadcast, speech and public relations.
The UA physical education program, which was also slated for elimination, has raised the concern that eliminating the department would conflict with the UA's role as a land-grant institution serving the educational needs of Arizona.
The departments at ASU and NAU said the UA department is essential in providing applicants for Southern Arizona schools.
"Most of our students don't go to southern Arizona to teach," said Paul Bryntesom, the head of the NAU health, exercise science, physical education and nutrition department.
Bill Stone, the chairman of ASU's exercise science and physical education department, said he also thinks cutting the UA's department would cause a shortage of physical education teachers in southern Arizona.
Both department heads said they expected an increase in students interested in the program, but said they were unsure of how many.
Bryntesom said the NAU department could handle an influx of about 30 students, but no more. About 150 students are currently in the program.
ASU has about 50 students enrolled in the physical education program and will be unable to deal with a large influx of students, Stone said.
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