By Cara Miller
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The UA Journalism department is the main target of a committee report proposing a partial phasing-out of several departments in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
In the face of an anticipated $320,000 budget shortfall starting July 1, the college's Strategic Planning Committee recommends that several departments under its jurisdiction be reduced, merged with related programs or be phased out completely.
"The committee decided that a few programs would suffer very heavily to maintain quality in the others," said Holly Martin Smith, SBS dean.
Under committee recommendations, the Journalism department would be completely phased out in three years along with the Mexican American Studies undergraduate program, the Communications graduate program and the Near Eastern Studies graduate program.
The committee targets the Journalism program because it is not a social science and because its primary aim in training students for a particular profession falls outside the confines of a liberal arts education, the report states.
"We don't have quality questions about the Journalism department, but it is a professional degree, not a liberal arts degree," Smith said.
With only 30 percent of journalism majors getting jobs, there aren't enough professional opportunities to warrant having three programs in the state, Smith said.
Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University also have journalism programs, but the UA has the only accredited program.
"We should not be scored on how many students get jobs in a bad economy. Newspapers are the first to have problems and the last to recover," said Jim Patten, head of the Journalism department.
Recent graduates from the program said there are jobs for serious journalism majors.
"The University of Arizona has always had a reputation for preparing students for the workforce rather than just educating people in theory," said Gilbert Bailon, assistant managing editor of the Dallas Morning News and a 1981 journalism graduate.
"It would be a very bad blow to diversity in the media because the University of Arizona has always been at the forefront of training minorities and helping them enter the workforce," he said.
Nineteen percent of the department's 310 undergraduates and 35 graduate students are minorities, Patten said.
The report acknowledges that the department has made special efforts to recruit and retain minority undergraduates through such activities as a summer workshop for high school students and a summer editing program for minority journalists.
It states that it is important not to lose the minority journalism programs that the department has maintained, and suggests that Pima Community College be approached about the possibility of assuming the student-run Tombstone Epitaph and El Independiente, a South Tucson bilingual publica-tion _ both of which operate out of the department.
The committee's report also found that the graduate degree is not central to Social and Behavioral Sciences or the UA because it is not connected to a strong and central research program.
"The department has not built itself as a strong research-oriented department, but rather as a practice-oriented department," the report states.
"Parents are sending their children here because they expect them to be taught closely and carefully by senior faculty members," Patten said.
According to the report, the department will remain open while current majors finish their degree, but no new students should be admitted for the fall of 1994.
The Communication department's graduate program is another area slated for cuts despite its national ranking as the No. 1 program for scholarly activity.
"We've got some of the most influential scholars in the United States," said William Crano, head of the Communication department.
"Judy Burgoon (a communication professor) is the most published woman in the field ever," he said.
Although the report recognizes the high-quality faculty and active research, it recommends phasing out the graduate program because of the small amount of applicants to the program.
"The department accepts a high percentage of those who apply. Eighty-four percent of those who apply to the Communication department are accepted, whereas other programs might only accept six-to-10 percent." Smith said.
Under recommendations, the department would not accept any new graduate students for 1994-95 and currently enrolled masters students would not be admitted to the doctoral program after the fall of 1995.
"It's difficult to imagine that the college of SBS would make a recommendation such as this based on the quality of the department," said Cindy White, a communications graduate student.
Graduate students are also concerned about how it will affect the 600 undergraduates.
"With the elimination of the graduate program, teaching is going to fall to the 12 tenured faculty members. How can you have quality teaching for this many students with only 12 faculty?" said Pete Jorgensen, a fourth-year communications doctoral student.
The Near Eastern Studies graduate program is also earmarked for removal under the preliminary recommendations.
"There is a fairly low demand for NES graduates, in fact, many graduates have been unable to secure positions related to their field," the report states.
Department head Michael Bonine was unavailable for comment.
And still other graduate programs have been targeted for reduction in their graduate programs such as the History, Anthropology and Political Science departments.
"There are quite a few graduate students who receive no funding from federal grants. The recommendation is to significantly reduce the number of non-funded students by not accepting any future graduate students who are not funded," Smith said.
History department head Michael Schaller had no comment and referred all questions to Smith.
William Longacre, head of the Anthropology department, said, "We came to the independent conclusion that we needed to reduce graduate students, so there was no conflict there."
Still, Smith said the following recommendations are preliminary and must go through a long process, passing first through the hands of the UA's Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee, then Provost Paul Sypherd, President Manuel T. Pacheco and finally, the Arizona Board of Regents.
Included in this strategic planning process is an extensive and campuswide review of committee recommendations. The departments will have an opportunity to respond to the committee's report during the next three weeks.
That is exactly what two of the departments are planning to do.
"I'm not ready to close the door just yet. There's a long fight ahead," said Jim Johnson, an associate journalism professor.
Communication department personnel are also planning to voice their opinions.
"This is a death sentence. This is the way you kill a department, but there is still a long way to go before it is accepted," Crano said.
"We're at the very early stages," Smith reaffirmed.
UA spokeswoman Sharon Kha said she also emphasized that these recommendations have a "long road" ahead of them before any final decisions are made.
And Pacheco said the university must be selective in the programs it offers and this planning process allows the school to pinpoint programs central to the mission of the UA.
He also said this process is better than across-the-board cuts.
"There is absolutely no question about that," Pacheco said.
And Smith said the UA is not the only university going through budget reductions.
"This is a local example of something that is happening nationally," Smith said. Read Next Article