An August proposal to the Board of Trustees concerning the merger of communication units at IU is almost certain now that the Memorandum of Understanding between the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Journalism is nearly complete.
The MOU is a five-page document originally drafted by School of Journalism faculty and staff that outlines aspects of the school that faculty and staff would like to see preserved in the merger process.
School of Journalism Dean Michael Evans said only slight tweaks were made to the MOU as it passed between leaders of the College and the School of Journalism in recent weeks.
The process ended Friday when it was given to Provost Lauren Robel for editing.
“I don’t think there will be any issues because the only things that I’ve done have been for the sake of clarifying provisions,” Robel said Sunday of her edits. “There’s nothing substantive in what I did.”
Once final edits are made, Robel plans to make the MOU public, likely sometime early next week.
Robel said the MOU was the main component needed before she would make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees at the August 8-9 meeting at IU-Purdue University Indianapolis, though she does expect faculty to start working on a new document in the summer focusing on academic programming.
The proposal will lay out the “substance” of the new school and include proposals for curriculum, degrees and other academic programs. Robel said she would like that proposal by mid-fall to then share with faculty and students.
While the MOU will act as an official document of understanding between the College and journalism, its provisions are not 100-percent guaranteed to be adopted when all is implemented.
“There’s no ensuring anything, but it’s taken very seriously,” Evans said. He added the document is a way to get all involved parties on the same page before any merging happens, though he said he doesn’t foresee there being any issues in the future.
Meanwhile in Ernie Pyle Hall, the leadership transition in the School of Journalism continues following Evans’ recent announcement of his plans to leave the school.
Evans said he has left the MOU editing between his school and COAS to Lesa Hatley Major, journalism senior associate dean, and Bonnie Brownlee, journalism associate dean, as they will still be at IU in the fall.
Robel said she needed to speak with President Michael McRobbie and the Board of Trustees this week before making her interim dean announcement, currently slated for early next week.
If approved by the trustees, the new school will be housed next to the Sample Gates, in Franklin Hall.
Tom Morrison, vice president of capital planning and facilities, said he expects construction to begin at Franklin within a year, assuming Gov. Mike Pence signs the budget into law and the Board of Trustees and state agencies approve the renovation project for Franklin Hall.
“Fortunately, the Indiana General Assembly as part of its budget bill passed (Friday) night authorized $21 million in funds for renovation of the remainder of the building,” Morrison said in an email.
Renovations have already been made to the building, including those in Presidents Hall. A new project to build a ramp and elevator in the front of the building is currently underway.
Before further renovations can be made, however, Morrison and Robel said space plans need to be developed by faculty and students from all affected units.
“In a best case scenario, planning will occur during the 2013-14 year and construction during the 2014-15 year with completion approximately two years from now,” he said.
Robel said she is currently assembling a committee that will develop ways to honor Ernie Pyle, the current School of Journalism building’s namesake.
“It’s less to memorialize Ernie Pyle than to make his legacy assessable and visible for students in the future,” Robel said.