In the final step of a year-long process, Elon’s School of Communications formally received national accreditation in a unanimous vote of the Accrediting Council on May 5 in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Elon is now the 18th private university in the world to have an accredited communications school, joining Syracuse, Columbia, Northwestern, Miami, Marquette, Baylor, Hofstra, American, Howard, Hampton, Drake, TCU, ACU, Brigham Young, Washington & Lee, the University of Southern California, and Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile. In addition, New York University is poised to join the group in two years, receiving provisional accreditation from ACEJMC at the May 5 meeting. In all, 108 colleges and universities in the world have an accredited communications program.
In this final step, members of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) were effusive in their praise, citing Elon’s assessment process as a national model for other universities and citing the Elon self-study as a “Best of Show” for those contemplating ACEJMC accreditation.
“It’s very unusual for a school going up for initial accreditation to be found in compliance on all standards,” committee chair Doug Anderson, dean of the College of Communications at Penn State, told the public gathering. Reflecting the findings of the team that visited Elon last October, Anderson presented Elon’s strengths in these words:
--Dedicated and collegial faculty.
--Service-learning orientation that pervades the School and campus culture.
--Very effective School leadership and administration, and very supportive central university administration.
--Open, friendly School and campus culture that creates a strong community for students and supports their engagement in a wide variety of activities.
--Excellent School facilities and equipment.
--Deeply rooted university and School culture of strategic planning, tied to equally strong plan implementation.
Anderson listed three weaknesses as identified by the site-visit team: the need to improve student diversity on campus and in the School; the need for more School-originated alumni communications; and the need to address structural weaknesses to make the student newspaper even better.
Council members at the Florida meeting probed the Elon report in two ways, and Dean Paul Parsons responded on behalf of Elon. One member asked if corporate communications students were shortchanged by not having an extracurricular outlet equivalent to student media, and Parsons responded that the School’s faculty already was engaged in conversations about creating a student agency for corporate communications majors. Another member cited North Carolina’s growing Latino population and asked whether the School has any Latino faculty. Parsons said no, but that the School recognizes the need to reflect in the classroom the population that journalism serves in the state and nation.
The year-long process began in October 2005 when an ACEJMC team spent four days at Elon, visiting classes, interviewing faculty, talking with students, and probing curriculum, budget, technology, scholarship, diversity, governance and public service. The team was led by Terry Hynes, dean of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida, and included faculty members from Syracuse and Middle Tennessee and the executive editor of the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. The team found Elon in compliance on all standards and recommended full accreditation.
In March 2006, the Accrediting Committee met in Chicago to review for consistency the 19 team reports submitted during the year. In a 22-minute presentation of the Elon program, Dean Hynes of Florida called Elon "a special place" where "you can actually feel that faculty care for students, and that students appreciate the faculty." She cited the School's strong curriculum, praised the faculty as genuine teacher-scholars, and said she had never seen during her 23 years in the accreditation process a program so well-focused and supported in the quest for national accreditation. The Accrediting Committee voted 14-0 to recommend full accreditation for Elon.
That set the stage for the third and final step in the year-long process – the Accrediting Council itself. Based on its positive vote on May 5, Elon’s School of Communications officially becomes an accredited program, effective immediately.
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