Back in Session

By: Nu Yang

Back in Session

When the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus closed its journalism school in June 2011, local media outlets reported it was due to state budget cuts and the evolving media landscape. Fast forward three years later, and the tide has changed. The school’s board of regents recently approved the creation the College of Media, Communication and Information, set to open in the fall of 2015.

Journalism and mass communication director Christopher Braider said the discontinuation of the J-school had been a tough decision, but he understood something “radical” had to happen. For him, it provided an opportunity to reboot the school’s media programs.

Faculty members spent the last three years reviving the old school, resulting in a 430-page proposal outlining the mission of the new college, new degrees and funding. Braider said they studied other J-schools, such as the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, during their research.

“What makes us different is that our reach is much greater,” he said.

The new college will include seven programs: advertising, public relations and media design; communication; critical media practices; information science; intermedia art, writing and performance; journalism; and media studies. Formal approval of the new degrees will take place this month at the next board of regents’ public meeting.

“These aren’t traditional independent departments,” Braider said. “We’re not building up; we’re building down from the college.”

Braider said he sees a lot of crossover between departments, where, for example, journalism students can take courses in information science. “The goal is to build a network, where faculty and students can move across departments.”

Right now, there is a lot of excitement about the new school, said Braider. “We’re hearing from perspective students about how they can apply and from current students who want to switch to the new college.” Even faculty members from other institutions and professional journalists are inquiring about teaching positions.

The college is also on the lookout for a dean. Currently, Braider serves as transitional dean. “We’re looking for someone who’s energetic and visionary, someone willing to talk and work with all the departments.” Braider hopes the new dean will be in place by July 2015.

Looking back, Braider said the journey has been a lesson of patience. “The media profession moves very slowly. It took us two years to think things through, but once that happened, we drew up the blueprint in six months.” It was also a lesson of convergence as the various media departments and faculty members banded together.

“It was a collaborative model,” Braider said. “We couldn’t be resistant to change. We had to think differently.”

Currently, the journalism and mass communication department has 1,700 enrolled students. According to the Daily Camera, campus leaders expect enrollment to grow to 3,072 in five years.

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