A visit this week from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication is one of potentially significant impact upon CU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
The ACEJMC comes to CU every six years and evaluates the SJMC on whether or not it should be accredited.
According the ACEJMC website, accreditation is intended to ensure continued improvement in the quality of instruction in journalism and mass communications through re-evaluation.
Undergraduate and graduate students were invited to attend meetings discussing the accreditation process and what it means for students on Monday and Tuesday.
Not only does accreditation grant a school validity and credibility, but it also impacts the experience and outlook of SJMC students.
Monika De La Rosa, a 20-year-old sophomore and news-editorial major, attended one of the meetings and said it helped her to understand how this decision impacts her future.
“[This decision] may not affect my classes here on campus but it may affect my degree after graduation,” De La Rosa said. “When I’m applying for a job in broadcast, I want them to see that I was a part of a successful, accredited program.”
De La Rosa said another concern is the potential program discontinuance of the SJMC and how accreditation may influence the Board of Regents’ decision.
“If they see that we are not accredited, they may think the program is not necessary anymore,” De La Rosa said.
The last time ACEJMC came to CU to evaluate the program (in 2005), it received full accreditation. Now, six years later, the SJMC is working to achieve this again.
Paul Voakes, dean of the SJMC, said the program places great prominence on this external evaluation.
“We ourselves can say ‘we’re an excellent program’ until we’re blue in the face, but when a completely external group affirms that, through a detailed and systematic analysis, then we’ve gained validity,” Voakes said.
De La Rosa said she thinks the consequences of this decision have the potential to affect judgments of not only her future employers, but of the future employers of everyone involved in this school.
“If we are not accredited, a lot of the students going out into the workforce lose a lot of opportunities such as internships and jobs,” De La Rosa said. “I know 9 News has an internship specifically for broadcast/communications. CU students said that they are considering getting rid of because of the program discontinuance.”
The team of visitors from the ACEJMC has concluded their evaluation based on nine standards, to which they assign a grade of “compliance” or “noncompliance.”
Based on their findings, the team will present their report to Chancellor Phil DiStefano and Provost Russell Moore at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.
There are three potential outcomes: full accreditation, provisional accreditation or denial of accreditation.
Provisional accreditation means the SJMC has a two-year period to address any small problem areas, and then the ACEJMC can re-evaluate for full accreditation, Voakes said.
According to Voakes, out of 450 mass communication programs in the U.S., only 111 are currently accredited.
“It requires every program to take a long, long, honest look in the mirror every six years, which helps us gain insights as to where we’re strong and where we need to work harder,” Voakes said.
De La Rosa said she thinks it is important that students get involved with this process.
“It is going to affect every one of us, so I think it’s important that we get involved and share our opinions, not just here on campus but also in the community,” De La Rosa said.
Emma Franklin, an 18-year-old freshman news-editorial major, said that the process is confusing to her as an SJMC student because of the school’s uncertain future.
“I’m not sure why exactly they are going through this process,” Franklin said. “I think if they want students to be more involved, there should be better communication and education about the future of the journalism school.”
Franklin, however, said she still recognizes that this decision is important.
“I don’t know if it will change anything, but it may keep things from changing,” Franklin said. “Especially if it can influence the decision of whether or not it will be discontinued.”
Voakes said that being reaccredited affirms [students’] choice of CU as the place to learn journalism and mass communication.
He said, “They know that they’ve chosen one of the top 25 percent of journalism programs in the country, one that provides all those important aspects of an education that are listed in those nine standards.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Kelsey Krebsbach at Kelsey.firstname.lastname@example.org.