Intelligent planning this ain't.

The Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences has recommended that the Journalism Department be phased out and that no new freshmen be admitted to the program. OK, times are still a little tough at the University of Arizona, and maybe students shouldn't expect the bad-news years to be over quite yet. But this is just plain silly.

A few quotes about the department from the report recommending its elimination:

"Students are well-prepared for print journalism careers."

"The program is famous for the high degree of personal attention accorded to undergraduate students by the faculty."

"It has made superlative efforts to foster journalism by and within minority communities _ making special efforts to recruit and retain minority undergraduates in the program _""

This does not sound like a department in need of the ax.

OK, no department is perfect, and Journalism is no exception. But the reasons for the proposed phase-out of this department demonstrate a severe lack of priorities.

Remember the old "research vs. education" debate? Well, here we go again. One of the department's "flaws" cited in the report is a lack of_ you guessed it_ research.

Of course, the reason journalism faculty are not engaged in research or "in-depth journalistic publications" (an acceptable "equivalent," according to the report) is because they are busy teaching. Plus, research is not particularly important to this field. The program's goal is to prepare students for work in the real world's fourth estate, and the efforts of the faculty in this regard have earned a national reputation.

However, since journalism professors aren't also publishing research articles, the department is obviously of no value. (By the way, most faculty members still work periodically in the newspaper business and thus do publish _ just not research.)

The report also states that the program is unnecessary because a small percentage of graduates (30 percent of those with master's degrees) find work in the field. This may well be true, but that doesn't mean the program is not beneficial. Graduates find work in public relations and other related fields. And besides, how many sociology or women's studies students find work in those fields? Only those who become professors.

Another reason the report gives for eliminating the program is that all three Arizona universities have a journalism department. True enough, and if higher education in the state is to survive into the next century, program cuts must be made with all three schools in mind. But since the UA's Journalism Department is the only accredited undergraduate program in the state, it doesn't make sense to start cutting in Tucson. This is a case of throwing out the baby and keeping the bath water.

Are you listening, Dr. Pacheco? If you truly want to prove that the UA's research mission doesn't interfere with undergraduate education, then don't let a good teaching department get lost in the shuffle. Read Next Article