By Cara Miller
Arizona Daily Wildcat
A Friday press conference called by three UA departments slated for phase-outs erupted into finger-pointing and name-calling between faculty and administrators.
Representatives from the Journalism, Communication and Near Eastern Studies departments called the conference to voice their concerns that the process used to recommend the elimination of these programs violates principles of faculty governance and Arizona Board of Regents policies.
Holly Martin Smith, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and University of Arizona Provost Paul Sypherd stood by and watched the conference.
Last week, a strategic planning committee headed up by Smith recommended that the Journalism program and the graduate programs of the Communications and Near Eastern Studies departments be phased out over the next three years.
Jim Patten, head of the Journalism department, repeated several times during the conference that Smith's actions in recommending cuts violated state governance laws that faculty representatives be part of the process.
"They have, in effect, terminated these programs and usurped the power of the Board of Regents," he said.
But Smith said she tried to involve as many faculty representatives as she could.
"We tried to balance out the committee with representatives from large units and small units, but there were more department heads than there were slots on the committee," she said.
Steve Godfrey, a communications senior at the press conference, said he was tired of what he called "administrative politics."
"They are picking on people who didn't have representation," he said.
Near Eastern Studies was represented on the faculty, but Journalism and Communication were not.
Still, Smith said some faculty that did serve on the committee also received severe recommendations for their departments.
Herbert Burgoon, a communication professor, called the committee's recommendation "Holly's folly."
"Holly Martin Smith is to economics what Tonya Harding is to ice skating." he said.
Communications students attended the conference en masse, donning yellow T-shirts and buttons that said "SBS proposal" with a red slash through it.
The departments' faculty members said that students hoping to declare a major in one of these programs may already be discouraged by the SBS college _ a move they say is already crippling the departments and, in effect, enacting the preliminary recommendations.
"The proposal is becoming policy," Patten said. Smith responded by saying that it would be "unethical" to let students into a program that is going to be phased out.
Nearing the end of the scheduled conference, Sypherd told attending students and media that there had been no "violation of any laws."
"If the UA doesn't do anything, we do process," he said. The recommendations will now pass through the hands of the UA's Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee, then Provost Paul Sypherd, President Manuel T. Pacheco and eventually, the regents.
Sypherd said this process would take at least a year.
Shortly after the press conference, Smith and Sypherd said they decided to stop restricting access to the undergraduate programs of the Journalism and Communications departments.
"We decided that given the information and requests from students, to permit those students to enroll in the program if they want to," Smith said.
If students were enrolled in the programs by April, they would be guaranteed an opportunity to graduate under the program. Enrollment after that cannot be guaranteed, she said.
Smith also said she will make herself available if other students and faculty want to discuss the committee findings.
"We are not faceless devils," she said.
Read Next Article