Boulder SJMC discontinuance advances

Provost: Procedure will enable 'strategic realignment'

Saying that a "broader conception of journalism education can and should be part of the campus curriculum," University of Colorado at Boulder Provost Russell L. Moore recommended to Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano that the School of Journalism and Mass Communications be discontinued in its present structure for the purpose of "strategic realignment."

Moore's letter to DiStefano, a formal step in the discontinuance process, was dated Dec. 1. The chancellor accepted the provost's recommendations, another step in the process. Moore's recommendations were based on the final report of the Program Discontinuance Committee, which was made public Nov. 17.

DiStefano has until Jan. 1 to forward his recommendations to CU President Bruce D. Benson, who will have until Feb. 1 to forward his recommendations to the Board of Regents. After the board has acted, the campus will implement the appropriate recommendations.

"It is my strongest opinion that the SJMC/DC report was superbly and thoughtfully crafted, and it captures the essence of the key arguments for program discontinuance," Moore said in the letter.

Discontinuance should be implemented "to permit a strategic realignment of degree programs, faculty and other resources to better serve the collective interests of the Boulder campus as a whole," Moore said.

The provost also recommended that a "guiding principle of the strategic realignment be that journalism education and scholarship be strongly aligned with and grounded in the academic traditions of other liberal arts disciplines on our campus.

"This recommendation is congruent with the SJMC/DC's statement (pp. 4) that 'If Journalism is construed more broadly as a profession whose essential skills are not designing ads or producing a news story, but rather gathering information relevant to society and democratic governance at all levels from local to global, thinking critically in the interpretation and analysis of that information and finally conveying that information to multiple audiences faithfully and effectively, then a case can be made that journalism education does have a place with other liberal arts disciplines in a comprehensive research university."

Moore also agreed with another committee recommendation that dealt with tenure track faculty and degree programs. The final discontinuance report recommended that "current tenure track faculty be reassigned to other tenure homes and that some or all of the degree programs currently housed in the SJMC be continued or offered in a revised form under different administrative auspices."

The formal process of program discontinuation for the SJMC began Sept. 1. In late August, university officials announced that the institution was considering closing the traditional journalism school and formed an exploratory committee to weigh the possibilities of a new interdisciplinary program of information and communication technology.

DiStefano said then that the process of discontinuance was necessary "in order to strategically realign our academic strengths and resources" in a way that will "meet the needs of our students, the labor market and our rapidly changing global society."

At the same time, the Exploratory Committee on Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) began examining the educational assets dealing with information, communication and technology on the Boulder campus (including those of the SJMC) and will make recommendations that could be used to create an ICT program.

The exploratory committee will use the program discontinuance report materials to develop a preliminary report, due to the provost Dec. 31. A final report is due Feb. 1.