‘Information sciences’ may streamline depts.

By Melissa Prentice

Arizona Daily Wildcat

There is no telling what might rise from a mixture of library science, communication, management information systems and journalism.

The University of Arizona is hoping the mix will stir up the future leadership of “information sciences.”

To help lead the university toward the 21st century, Provost Paul Sypherd has compiled a commission with representatives from the four departments and local and national corporate representatives, including Cable News Network and USA Today, said Suellen Crano, planning and review coordinator in the provost’s office.

Discussions of establishing a committee to form the department surfaced during the discussions surrounding Sypherd’s proposal to eliminate the journalism department last semester. The committee is established and plans to meet for in May and is expected to report to Sypherd by the fall.

Although still uncertain about the specific purpose of the committee, faculty and community members say they are eager to help further explore the role of information sciences at the university.

“We have been asked to give our best judgement of how the information sciences should be handled by the university to meet the needs of preparing students for the 21st century,” said Charlie Hurt, head of the Library Sciences Department.

Whether the end result of the discussions is to develop a partnership, a new unit combining the various departments or an “umbrella” that links already existing units is yet to be determined, he said.

“I don’t envision a new formal unit being created, but I could be convinced if that is what we decide,” he said. “As it is, the field of information sciences is too wide to be handled by one department”

Rutgers University, which has a unit that combines library science, communication and information studies, but not computer sciences, is the closest model to what is being discussed at the UA, he said. He said he hopes a new UA department would include computer sciences.

Edith Auslander, human resources director at Tucson Newspapers Incorporated, who has advocated an information communications department during her involvement on the “Save Journalism” committee, says she plans to continue her advocacy as a member of the new committee.

“This is the first step toward a new effort to be the model school for information journalism and I think we can be,” she said.

Due to the nature of communication today, which involves increasing technology and interactive media, there needs collaboration between of library and computer sciences, as well as print and electronic communication, she said.

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