Future of SJMC in question

Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Affairs Jeffrey Cox, Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Russell Moore and Dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication Paul Voakes answer questions during a press conference concerning the future of CU's School of Journalism and Mass Communication in the UMC Wednesday afternoon. (August 25, 2010) (CU Independent/Lee Pruitt)

The future of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at CU-Boulder is in question, according to a CU News Center release.

An exploratory committee has been assembled to work on the formation of a new interdisciplinary academic program focused on information and communication technology.

In a news release statement, Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano said the CU-Boulder campus aims to keep up with the changes journalism and mass communication have seen in society.

“News and communications transmission as well as the role of the press and journalism in a democratic society are changing at a tremendous pace,” DiStefano said in the news release. “We must change with it.”

No journalism representatives will be on the exploratory committee, though Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Russ Moore said the five or six members on the committee will work with the Journalism School to get a feel for what is needed.

In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Dean Paul Voakes said he planned on remaining at the helm of the Journalism School for as long as he could.

“I was dean yesterday. I am dean today. I expect to be dean tomorrow. I am deeply, deeply committed not only to the University of Colorado but to the school today,” Voakes said. “I serve at will. I serve at the discretion of the provost and the chancellor. I intend to maintain this leadership role for as long as I can.”

Dean Voakes said the faculty supported potential restructuring of the school.

“The faculty is extremely unified in support of the chancellor’s decision because there’s a recognition that this faculty has been talking about this for well over a year, about making the next bold move and it seems as if there are always a number of barriers in the way until now,” Voakes said. “Today’s decision is not only the most sensible, but is also the most exciting.”

According to the release, this transition has been discussed for a number of years. The process of discontinuing the SJMC program as it is today will begin Sept. 1. All students who have already been admitted to the SJMC will be able to complete their degrees.

Christina Gonzalez, a 35-year-old Ph.D. candidate in the SJMC, shared her reaction to the news of the discontinuation.

“I think there are a couple of things to keep in mind,” Gonzalez said. “Can we preserve the school? Can we preserve the tradition of the graduate student program as well? I also believe strongly in maintaining critical studies … .”

In a letter to the chancellor dated April 23, the SJMC Advisory Board wrote in support of closing the SJMC.

“We acknowledge the checkered reputation our school has, its past accredidation problems and the overall budget woes of the entire university,” the Advisory Board wrote. “We owe our students far better.”

The board recommended that the school combine with the ATLAS program and create a new College of News, Information and Technology that will include the advertising sequence, news writing and reporting classes and television on-air and production classes.

Students currently in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication will have an opportunity to voice their concerns through open forums on Tuesday, Sept. 14 from 3 to 5 p.m. and Wednesday, Sept. 15 from noon to 2 p.m. in UMC room 235.

For now, however, CU officials are encouraging students and faculty to continue their work within the Journalism School.

“I think we should go ahead and conduct the fine work we’re doing right now,” Moore said.

Stay with the CU Independent for more information.

Sara Morrey

This is Sara’s sixth semester with the CU Independent. She has previously worked as a news reporter, deadline news editor and managing editor, and spent the summer of 2010 as an intern at the Denver Business Journal. She has a general aversion to fish, contact lenses and camping, and is almost positive she has kept Orbit gum and Rush in business for the past year. The CUI has greatly impacted her college experience and she is looking forward to what this semester has to bring.

  1. I sure hope this will work out for the best. As a graduate of the SJMC, I felt more than prepared to enter into professional news reporting. That being said, a new college in cooperation with ATLAS could provide a heavier emphasis on technology in all aspects of journalism.

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