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Robel approves merger

Provost recommends School of Journalism to become part of College, merge with CMCL, telecommunications

POSTED AT 12:42 AM ON Feb. 20, 2013  (UPDATED AT 01:08 AM ON Feb. 22, 2013)

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The IU School of Journalism merger with the telecommunications and communication and culture departments is moving forward following Provost Lauren Robel’s decision to recommend the plan to the Board of Trustees.  

She also recommended the new merged units reside within the College of Arts and Sciences and be located in Franklin Hall. 

Robel made the announcement at the State of the Campus address Tuesday afternoon. It follows months of debate, administrative sessions and town hall meetings concerning the proposed merger.

“I have concluded that the programs have a bright future and will best serve students if they are combined into a single school, if the campus can invest the appropriate resources in facilities and faculty and if the departments can repurpose their existing resources away from administrative overhead and towards their shared academic mission,” Robel said in her address.

The recommendation will now go to the Board of Trustees and President Michael McRobbie.

Interim Dean of the School of Journalism Michael Evans is in communication with the provost’s office to clarify questions not addressed in the speech, according to a School of Journalism statement released after Robel’s remarks.

In an email to School of Journalism students, Evans said Robel is still working out specific details. He also said Robel is encouraging the public to look at the new School for Global and International Studies as a model for future direction.

Evans was publicly supportive of a merger arrangement in recent months, but insisted journalism remain its own school.

“As many of you know, I have argued vigorously that the new school, if it were created, should be free-standing outside the College,” Evans said in the email. “The Provost listened to my concerns and those expressed by many of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni, but in the end she made the decision to recommend that the new unit exist inside COAS.”

Both the communication and culture and telecommunications departments currently fall under the College of Arts and Sciences, whereas the School of Journalism operates independently as its own school, much like the Kelley School of Business or the Jacobs School of Music. 

Walter Gantz, telecommunications department chair, said he was pleased with the provost’s announcement. 

“I think this is something that is very much appreciated by the two departments in the COAS,” Gantz said. “We love the liberal arts tradition. Journalism has a liberal arts tradition, but I suspect that this will be, as a result, a bit more trying transition for them than for us, and I hope that my colleagues will grow to look forward to these and I’m sure we look forward to working with them as colleagues.”

Gantz is looking for specifics from Robel on a final structure. He said he expects the trustees to follow her recommendation.

“One of the elements pushing us to this is coming from the trustees, and perhaps the president himself,” Gantz said. “I’m confident that under the provost guidance, the trustees will approve the plans."

Jim Stinson graduated from the School of Journalism’s master’s program in 2002 and is currently an editorial writer at the Daytona Beach News-Journal in Daytona Beach, Fla.

He said he was greatly troubled after learning the news Tuesday afternoon.

“I don’t mind the consolidation of schools and programs, but I can think of few things more harmful to IU or the School of Journalism than emptying journalists from Ernie Pyle and teaching math or anthropology next to Ernie’s Pulitzer — short of firing Tom Crean, or changing the IU colors to blue and gold,” he said.

President of the School of Journalism Alumni Association Board JR Ross, a former Indiana Daily Student editor, expressed confusion and concern about the school’s potential placement within the College of Arts and Sciences.

“It’s been a fear of the alumni all along that the new school will be placed in COAS,” Ross said. “There traditionally hasn’t been a respect of journalism in the school as a study, as a profession. Why you would take a thriving school that’s producing some top notch talent and put in it COAS is beyond me.”

The alumni board met with Robel in September. At that time, Ross said Robel left the distinct impression that her preference was for the School of Journalism to remain its own independent school.

Ross said losing its status as an independent school will impede autonomous financial decision power and ensnare the school in COAS bureaucracy, slowing the school’s response time to the changing media landscape.

“The issue is, no two ways about it, is putting the school back in the COAS,” Ross said. “The best j-schools in the country are by and large independent. It will be seen as a secondary. It will diminish its reputation.”

He said alumni will want answers in the form of specific merger plans. Until then, he said alumni will continue to make their voices heard.

“We still pay attention,” he said. “We still care.”

 

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