By Kelly Canright
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Recommendations for drastic cuts by Provost Paul Sypherd have left journalism and statistics faculty in a lurch.
Sypherd announced Wednesday that he was recommending that the journalism and statistics departments be phased out.
"I have no idea what the reasons are. So many have been cited and withdrawn since April 5. I am in a state of confusion," said Donald Carson, journalism professor.
"The reasons Sypherd gave to the Wildcat were not the reasons he gave to us," Carson added.
Sypherd also told journalism faculty that few students from the program acquire jobs in the media, Carson said.
However, Carson said that 'Job Day' for journalism will be held on Nov. 6. Twenty news organizations will be coming to interview students.
Journalism department head Jim Patten discussed the future of the faculty and the department.
Litigation against the university has been discussed, although Patten did not bring up the subject.
"It is far, far too early to talk about any lawsuit. We are all aware of our legal rights as tenured professors. We will watch for any violations, but we do not expect them," Patten said.
At present, there are seven tenured faculty in the journalism department.
Litigation could be pursued if the university fired tenured faculty or if the $500,000 endowment willed from various sources to the journalism department is taken by the university.
The Arizona Daily Star and The Tucson Citizen were made aware of Sypherd's recommendation before he spoke to the faculty himself.
"I am very disappointed. The Star and The Citizen are our good friends, so I am not upset with them, but I am upset that Provost Sypherd would tell them before us," Carson said.
An administrator in the College of Behavioral Sciences knew a few days before they did, Carson said.
Last April, the Social and Behavioral Sciences committee issued a report which found journalism to be incompetent in many respects.
"We believe the report by SBS was incorrect in lots of ways," Patten said.
"The SBS report was quite inaccurate. It surprised me that
a scholar at a research university would produce such a poor report," Carson said.
The Tombstone Epitaph, which is produced by journalism students at the University of Arizona would presumably be returned to the original owner if the department is closed, Carson said.
El Independiente, another department production, was the idea of George Ridge and was executed by Jacqueline Sharkey, both journalism professors. It is the only bilingual newspaper produced in the United States by a university, Carson said.
"I presume that if we are closed, then the Independiente would be closed, but who knows?" Carson said.
Journalism professor C. Bickford Lucas said he was looking at Sypherd's comments as optimistically as possible.
"Some of what Sypherd said, even though his terminology sounded like a death penalty, left the door slightly ajar," Lucas said.
The head of the statistics department, Yashaswini Mittal, was upset that Sypherd had made virtually no attempts to discuss the action he was taking.
"Nobody listens to me. Nobody talks to me. The provost has not contacted me or responded to any of my e-mail messages," Mittal said.
"They have not done their homework. The provost says that his deans assure him that it is going to be OK. That does not sound like a plan," Mittal said.
"I have continually asked for a plan, and I have not received an answer, nor did I receive one yesterday," she added.
Mittal said she has continually asked the provost for figures on how much will be saved if the four departments are cut, but he does not have figures, Mittal said.
Chairman of the Faculty Senate J.D. Garcia is an intricate part of the next process which will be picking committees that will study the recommendations.
This review process is mandated by the Arizona Board of Regents.
At yesterday's board meeting, Regent Art Chapa said he would not formulate an opinion about the recommended department cuts until he had more information.
"It hasn't been submitted to use at this point," he said. "It has to be approved by the faculty, and I'm sure they don't want us to interfere at this point any more than the president does."
Regent Hank Amos said he supports eliminating the departments because he feels the recommendations have been well researched.
"The president and provost had a lot of pressure, but they felt what they are doing is necessary," he said. "If they were to succumb to this pressure, other departments would realize what to do."
"The studies show that we ought not to duplicate programs," said Regent Andy Hurwitz. "We have done this (decided to eliminate) in different areas, but because journalism is a high profile area, it gets more attention."
"I think some of the statements Provost Sypherd made were ill-considered. He could have acted as a better manager and talked more about people being released," Garcia said.
"He shouldn't seem to be going about gleefully terminating people's jobs because that is not supportive of the people in those organizations," Garcia added.
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