By Albert R. Tims
This past fall, the School of Journalism & Mass Communication underwent a comprehensive review by a national accreditation team as the first stage of a comprehensive, five-year review by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC). A bit of background: the SJMC is one of an elite group of schools of journalism and mass communication which undertakes accreditation by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC). The accreditation process begins with an intensive self-study: a complete evaluation and subsequent reporting of all the School's activities over a five-year period. We started work on the self-study in the summer of 2005 with detailed and comprehensive examination of our curriculum and instruction, faculty scholarship and service, student services, facilities, learning outcomes, and a number of other criteria.
The result of this self-study (aside from a group of very worn-out staff and faculty) was a 300+-page document, which was sent to the five team members appointed by the ACEJMC to conduct our accreditation site visit, which took place in late October.
I'm very pleased to report that the site team is recommending full accreditation to the national accreditation committee and that the site team was impressed by our students, our curriculum, our faculty, and our facilities in Murphy Hall. Here's a sampling of how the team described our program in their report:
• "A bright and engaged student body ranked at the top among students in the College."
• "A thoughtful, forward-looking and ambitious vision for prepar ing students for careers in a volatile field."
• "A creative and flexible curriculum that enables students to develop knowledge and skills across platforms."
• "Challenging, strategic and collegial leadership respected within the School, on campus and in the industry."
• "A stimulating balance in the full-time faculty between accom plished scholars and experienced professionals."
• "Superb facilities and equipment in classrooms, laboratories and offices."
• "Robust outreach, programs and exchanges between the School and the professions in the Twin Cities and nationally."
The team identified a few areas where the School needs to improve. One such area is increasing the diversity of our faculty. This has been a priority for the School for several years now, and our work in this area has resulted in CLA's granting us one of five new college faculty lines specifically for the hiring of a Professor of Diversity in Media. The search for this new hire is underway as we speak, and we are very much looking forward to bringing a scholar into the School who can help us build our knowledge and understanding of issues of multiculturalism.
The accreditation process is a challenge, and so too is the follow-up work of making the changes that will keep the SJMC among the top schools of journalism and mass communication in the country. But the positive feedback about our program from the ACEJMC reassures us that we are indeed moving in the right direction. I hope that all of you are as proud as I am to be associated with this excellent and visionary School.
If you have any questions about the accreditation process, please visit the self-study section of our web site at http://www.sjmc.umn.edu/aboutus/selfstudy.html or contact me directly. I look forward to hearing from you and keeping you up-to-date on the wonderful work of our faculty, staff, and students in the SJMC.
Albert R. Tims, Director