National team recommends reaccreditation for School of Communications

An accrediting team has found the school’s undergraduate program and M.A. in Interactive Media program in compliance on all standards.

A team representing the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) has recommended full reaccreditation of the undergraduate and graduate programs in the School of Communications.

ACEJMC accrediting team chair Trevor Brown (far right), dean emeritus of the School of Journalism at Indiana University, hands the team's final recommendation report to Communications Dean Paul Parsons (left).
The team’s 55-page report commends the school for its ability to “adapt nimbly to the demands of a digital, multimedia world of communication.”

The accreditation team presented its findings to President Leo M. Lambert at the conclusion of its Oct. 22-25 site visit to Elon. The Accrediting Committee considers all site team reports in March 2018, and the Accrediting Council will formally vote on reaccreditation in April 2018 in Chicago.

The chair of Elon’s site team was Trevor Brown, dean emeritus of the School of Journalism at Indiana University. Other team members included Sherrie Marshall, executive editor at Telegraph Media Group in Macon, Georgia; Diana Martinelli of West Virginia University; Bill Silcock of Arizona State University; and Deb Wenger of the University of Mississippi.

Preceding the team visit, the school prepared a 200-page self-study that analyzed the program in the nine standards: mission, governance and administration; curriculum and instruction; diversity and inclusiveness; faculty; scholarship; student services; resources, facilities and equipment; public and professional service; and assessment of learning outcomes. The team praised the school’s self-study as “thorough, informative and concise.” 

In terms of strengths, the national team listed these nine in the words below:

  • Visionary, strategic, goal-directed leadership that inspires and supports the aspirations and work of students, faculty and staff
  • Innovative, forward-thinking curriculum and instruction, ever alert to change
  • Student-centered faculty who also encourage and celebrate the accomplishments of colleagues
  • Committed, engaged students who excel in the classroom and volunteer time to sustain student media and organizations at a high, competitive level 
  • Outstanding scholarship, traditional and creative, in a university that prioritizes teaching
  • A wealth of opportunities in experiential learning for students early in their program of study
  • Four spacious, elegant buildings with inviting spaces for students to gather, collaborate and study
  • High-tech facilities accessible 24/7 to students and faculty
  • An expanded Elon in LA program that enhances students’ learning and develops alumni relationships

In terms of graduate program strengths, the team listed these four in the words below:

  • Impressively diverse student body
  • Collaborative space and ample equipment designed to promote learning
  • Award-winning faculty who continually update knowledge and skills
  • Fly-In experience that enhances global engagement and multicultural service learning

In its extensive report, the ACEJMC team highlighted numerous areas of distinction, singling out the school’s “collegial, participatory culture” that unites rather than separates faculty. The team said that faculty members produce “an impressive volume” of academic research and professional activity, resulting in more than 1,000 scholarly and creative activities in the past six years. 

Members of the ACEJMC accreditation team gather with Communications Dean Paul Parsons “Under the Oaks,” with Snow Family Grand Atrium in the background. Pictured (from left) are Parsons, Diana Martinelli, Deb Wenger, Bill Silcock, Trevor Brown and Sherrie Marshall.
Team members also report that Elon students benefit from a wealth of available resources and opportunities, and enjoy a “robust independent student media that provide hands-on learning while encouraging critical thinking, collaboration and teamwork.” The team added that students expressed an appreciation for the personal touch they receive, applauding their “professors’ knowledge, expertise, caring, mentorship and accessibility.”

Additionally, the report noted that the M.A. in Interactive Media program is “an innovative, immersive, professionally oriented program that includes an applied international experience and has impressive student diversity, graduation, and placement rates.” The team exalted iMedia’s commitment to diversity, calling it a “major achievement” that 50 percent of the graduate program population identifies as individuals of color. Likewise, the report said the school has “recruited, nurtured and promoted a robust faculty with a wide array of excellent credentials.”

Elon is one of 18 private universities in the nation with an accredited communications school, along with Columbia, Syracuse, New York University, Baylor, American University and the University of Southern California. In all, 117 colleges and universities in the world have accreditation status. ACEJMC has a six-year renewal cycle. Elon’s School of Communications was initially accredited in 2005-06, and the M.A. in Interactive Media program was initially accredited in 2011-12.