Taking steps toward accreditation
Elon's School of Communications took two giant steps this spring toward becoming
a nationally accredited program.
At present, only 16 private universities in the nation have an accredited
journalism or communications program. On the Eastern Seaboard, these are Columbia
University, New York University, Washington & Lee, Syracuse, Miami, Howard,
Hampton and American University. Hofstra is in the process of becoming accredited
Before coming to Elon as dean, I was a professor and administrator at Kansas
State University during two successful accreditation visits. In my view, Elon has
an outstanding School of Communications ready to be accredited - when we fall into
compliance with a specific curriculum guideline.
The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications
stipulates that students completing our major must have at least 80 credit hours
of classroom work outside the School of Communications, with 65 or more of those hours in the
liberal arts and sciences. For more information on the council, go to http://www.ukans.edu/~acejmc/
Most of our graduating seniors already meet the 80/65 rule, but about 25 percent
do not. The Accrediting Council requires near-perfect compliance.
So our first step toward accreditation this spring was the faculty's adoption of
the 80/65 rule as a requirement. The intellectual philosophy behind the rule is
that students need a broad array of coursework. In our case, a quarter of our
students have enjoyed communications classes so much that they keep taking more
of our classes instead of classes elsewhere in the university. All students will now
be asked to keep the 80/65 rule in mind when planning their course schedules.
The second step this spring was a campus visit by two of the leading officers of
the Accrediting Council: executive director Susanne Shaw (a professor at the
University of Kansas) and council vice president Dr. Will Norton Jr. (dean of the
College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska).
They spent several days visiting faculty, administrators and students and gave us
a useful report covering such areas as governance, budget, instruction,
curriculum, advising, faculty, internships, facilities, scholarship, service,
alumni and diversity.
Still, it will be a couple of years before we can formally apply for
accreditation, since we first must graduate two senior classes in near-perfect
compliance with the 80/65 rule.
In the meantime, we continue building one of the nation's premier communications
Paul Parsons, Dean