Committee backs Journalism Dept.

By Melissa Prentice

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The vote is in and it is unanimous journalism should not be eliminated at the UA.

"By a well-considered and unanimous vote," the special Faculty Senate committee studying the department's proposed elimination recommended in a report released yesterday that "the negative impact on the university and the community far outweigh the financial savings, if any, that would accrue to Social and Behavioral Sciences from the elimination of the Department of Journalism.

"The special committee recommends that the proposal to eliminate the Department of Journalism be rejected in its entirety. We further recommend that you attempt to repair the damage done to the department and the university by the irregular procedures followed in this case by a prompt reinstatement of the department."

The committee also recommended that journalism should be an "integral part of any new university unit housing media and information."

"We were satisfied that the Department of Journalism has excellent programs," said Norman Austin, a classics professor and head of the committee. "It has an excellent reputation nationally, the programs for minority students are a model for the university and the department has good placement records. The department has widespread support in the state of Arizona. We also felt that there is very strong teaching and mentoring in the department."

Journalism Department head Jim Patten, who was also a member of the committee, said he was not surprised about the strength of the support voiced in the recommendation.

"From the way the evidence piled up we could see that it would be a strong report," he said. "The committee was very hard-working and objective, but we became convinced over time."

Earlier this semester, President Manuel T. Pacheco seconded Provost Paul Sypherd's recommendation to elimination of the journalism department, as well as statistics and physical education. Over the last week, separate faculty committees gave mixed reviews to the other departments, supporting the recommendation to eliminate statistics, but calling for the continuation of physical education.

Pacheco can now choose to alter or stay firm in his recommendations to the Arizona Board of Regents. The regents have the final say on the fate of the departments.

Pacheco said yesterday that he would study the recommendation further before he makes any decision about what route he will take from here. He said he does not plan to do additional outside research before he makes the decisions.

In his earlier recommendation to eliminate the department, Pacheco cited the budget prob-

lems at the university and the "low quality of the department." But the faculty committee disagreed.

Not only would cutting the department not save money for the university since the resources would be redistributed in other areas of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, but the university would actually lose more than $500,000 in endowments given to the department. The department uses this money for student scholarships, adjunct faculty salaries and equipment, the committee reported.

Patten said he is "sympathetic with the university's budget problems," but said the department has "given our share," by reducing full-time faculty from 11 to six members. He said he hopes that, like the faculty recommendation suggests, more faculty members can be hired by the department. But he said considering the economic state of the university, he would not ask for the return of all 11 positions.

As part of the committee's recommendation, it suggested that some of the vacant faculty positions in the department be filled with qualified, tenure track professors and that the salaries be paid from the $513,777 that was added to the administration category in the 1992-93 budget.

Regarding the alleged "low quality of the department," the committee wrote that it "disputes the claims made by SBS and by the provost that journalism does not offer programs of quality." Of 94 programs in a national journalism competition, the UA department placed 8th, 7th and 11th the last three years and four department graduates are Pulitzer Prize winners.

The department is the "foremost in the nation in training minority journalists." Faculty in the department have been honored with numerous teaching awards, the report states.

A student forum in March yielded responses from more than 200 students who pleaded with the committee to keep the department alive and told heartfelt stories of personal relationships with the department professors. Others told of internships they had earned at newspapers across the country.

The following night, another 200 community members, including alumni, leaders from newspapers and television stations across the state, and public relations firms, spoke in support of the department and its high quality of journalism graduates.

Patten said the support shown during these forums made a strong impression on the committee members.

Melanie Harrice, a journalism graduate student and organizer of the student forum, said the decision is "fantastic."

"I hope the faculty support has some weight in the process. Whether it does or not will be a reflection on how the university is run." She said she is continuing to work on ways to show support for the department.

Angela Way, a journalism senior, said she agrees the decision is a "great first step. It shows that there is some support and that Sypherd and Pacheco have some more research to do."

Patten said he hopes the full Faculty Senate will also "see the vigor of the report, the intensity with which the recommendation the recommendations were made and follow suit," he said.

But what he said he wants most of all it to "get back to work" and "start healing."

"This has hurt the department ... because we've lost some fine students who chose not to come here, but we can make it up as soon as this process ends."

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