Editorial was off-base says SBS Dean


By quoting Provost Paul Sypherd out of context in your Staff Editorial of Oct. 27, you have badly misled your readers regarding the involvement of students in the deliberations that led to the recommendation that the Journalism Department be phased out. Sypherd, by his account, told your reporter accurately that no students were involved in the small group of faculty from the journalism, communication and library sciences departments that met briefly over the summer to ascertain whether merging the three units was a viable option. However, contrary to the statement in your editorial, prior to this summer there was significant student contribution to the processes leading to the current recommendation.

Provost Sypherd's recent recommendation grew out of two recommendations from the spring of 1994 of earlier committees, the Social and Behavioral Science Strategic Planning Committee, and the University-level Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee. Both of these committees had student members. In the case of the SBS Committee, two of the 15 members were students, and their voices were thoughtful and important ones on the committee. When the committee met in November with representatives of each SBS unit to discuss issues involving the unit, the Journalism Department, like most other SBS units, did not elect to bring student representatives. However, the department had included student members on the team preparing the self-study report for its accreditation review, and this report was read by the SBS Committee. Immediately following the release of the SBS Committee's preliminary report, faculty and students in journalism and other departments called two press conferences. As dean I attended both these conferences, and talked with groups of students for several hours afterwards in each case. I also offered repeatedly to the department head to meet with students and faculty in the department (an invitation which was not pursued by the department). Many journalism students sent letters to the SBS Committee protesting the recommendation and describing in vivid terms the value of the program. These letters were all made available to all members of the SBS Committee as part of the department's response to the committee's recommendation; I personally read every one. In addition, a significant number of students made appointments to talk with me, or with associate dean Chris Maloney or assistant dean Margaret Wilder about their concerns and hopes for the program. We met with every student who sought such an appointment, and conveyed their concerns to the SBS Committee. In addition, I talked to a number of students (and their parents) who were considering attending the UA in order to major in journalism. Finally, during the period set aside for the Journalism Department to respond to the SBS Committee's recommendation, a student was one of the two representatives sent by the department to present its point of view.

Students in journalism have been both active and extremely effective in making their voices heard during the process leading to the present recommendation. Members of the SBS Committee, including myself, learned a great deal from what the journalism students had to say. In the end the harsh budgetary realities facing SBS had to be addressed, and the students' point of view did not prevail. But this point of view was given the most serious consideration, and your reporter and editor have done these students a great disservice by suggesting they made no contribution to the deliberative process as it has unfolded so far.

Holly M. Smith

Dean of Social and

Behavioral Sciences

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