By Amanda Hunt and Melissa Prentice
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Although UA president Manuel T. Pacheco cast his vote against them, members of the journalism and statistics departments say the battle has just begun.
"There is no way it is over. It is not over until the Arizona Board of Regents says its over," said Jim Patten, journalism department head. "What we have had all along was a proposal and what we have is still just a proposal."
"They have isolated me and isolated the department of statistics," said Yashaswini Mittal, statistics department head. "They have hunted us down like a hunted animal. They have destroyed what I have created here in a short amount of time with limited resources. It had a lot of potential for growth."
Patten said he was not surprised, but was disappointed that Pacheco announced yesterday he was "inclined to approve" a recommendation made by Provost Paul Sypherd to eliminate the journalism department by June 1998.
"I was disappointed. I had hoped the additional evidence we showed (Pacheco) and the public support might sway him," Patten said.
Donald W. Carson, journalism professor and former department head, said he was disappointed with the recommendation and concerned about Pacheco's goals as president of the university.
"This is a president who came into his job promising to focus attention on undergraduate education and minority recruitment, retention and placement. The journalism department has been and is a campus leader in both," he said.
Under Pacheco's proposal, journalism students would be permitted to complete their degrees by May 1998. Other undergraduate students would be able to become journalism students only if they could graduate by that date. No additional graduate students would be accepted.
The journalism department had proposed a
merger with media arts and the creation of a school of mass communications, but Pacheco did not discuss the proposal in his recommendation.
The university would "employ its best effort to identify alternative positions for tenured faculty members," Pacheco wrote in a statement to the Faculty Senate.
Pacheco wrote that his reasons for endorsing the proposal included the department's emphasis on teaching basic skills and not on research.
"I cannot conceive that the university is well-served by an undergraduate program that does a good job of teaching basics but insufficient beyond that mark," Pacheco wrote. "Nor do I believe that an institution of our caliber can readily accept a situation in which only one of eight ranked faculty members can be commended for scholarly research and writing of a caliber appropriate to a Research One institution."
Pacheco and Sypherd were unavailable for further comment.
Carson criticized the president for placing research and graduate education over undergraduate education. He said the president needed better facts in making his decision and to acknowledge the differences between the professional program and the research-based one. "But there are lots of professional programs around (the UA) that aren't being closed," he added.
"In recommending our elimination, the president has chosen to pin his case on what he describes as a lack of scholarly research," he said.
Patten and Carson both said that in the department's 1994 accreditation evaluation, which Pacheco referred to, the department was praised in all categories except research.
Journalism Professor Colleen Vallo said she was also not surprised by the recommendation, but added that the "real battle" starts now with the Arizona Board of Regents.
The department needs to approach the regents with "emotional and factual pleas to present a case to go against the recommendation," she said.
And that is exactly what faculty in the department plan to do, said Patten, who added that the faculty will continue meeting with regents as well as state legislators.
"The decision is misguided because journalism skills are beneficial to more than just people who want to be reporters, they are good vocational skills," Vallo said. "With increasing problems trying to find jobs, it's a disservice to get rid of one department that can be beneficial in trying to find jobs. The university should have a vested interest in students getting jobs, not just an education."
Trigie Ealey, journalism and political science junior, said she is disappointed but not shocked by the recommendation. Ealey has written letters in support of the department in the past months and said, "We're not going to let this be the last word."
Leyla Knight, a journalism sophomore, said she "was really shocked. I had thought journalism was very important to American society in general. It's in the First Amendment Ä freedom of speech and freedom of press."
Pacheco also supported Sypherd's proposal to phase out the graduate program in statistics. There is no undergraduate program. One undergraduate course taught in the department, Statistics 275, will be transferred to the College of Business and Public Administration.
Three of the four faculty members will be transferred to the mathematics department, according to Pacheco's plan. The fourth will leave to work at another university.
"I was not surprised by the recommendation since that is what the provost had said," Mittal said.
She said although she accepted the recommendation a long time ago, she plans to continue voicing her opinion that it is a bad move.
"I will inform everyone that I think it is a blatantly bad decision," she said. "Just because I accepted it doesn't mean I will not stop saying what I think is right."
Mittal said she thinks the fate of the department is irrelevant at this point because the damage is already done.
She said she is especially concerned that she has been unable to meet with either Pacheco or Sypherd to discuss the recommendations.
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