Colorado Mulls Shutting Down Journalism School

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

The University of Colorado at Boulder is considering the possibility of discontinuing its School of Journalism and Mass Communications “for strategic and budgetary reasons,” the state’s flagship university announced Wednesday.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, university officials were at pains to emphasize that no decision had yet been made on discontinuing the journalism program, and noted that an exploratory committee has been appointed to study creating “a new academic unit that will draw on existing strengths to prepare students for an ever-changing communications and media marketplace.”

UC officials said beginning the so-called “Program Discontinuance” process is mandated by the university’s regents to protect faculty and students.

“The name is somewhat unfortunate in terms of discontinuation,” Interim Provost Russell Moore said in a conference call. “It’s not a pro-forma determination that the program will be discontinued.”

But Moore also raised the possibility that the exploratory committee, which is due to conclude its report by the end of the fall semester, may recommend “sweeping changes” from the present journalism program.

Some 30 other “peer” schools — including Wisconsin, Cornell, Rutgers and UC Berkeley – have implemented radically different programs to address technology’s impact on mass communication, Moore said.

“We want to strategically realign resources and strengths currently existing on the CU-Boulder campus to ensure that course and degree offerings meet the needs of students, the labor market, our campus mission and the communications needs of a rapidly changing global society,²Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano said in the announcement. “News and communications transmission as well as the role of the press and journalism in a democratic society are changing at a tremendous pace. We must change with it.²

The university said that whatever decision is made about the j-school’s fate, students will be able to complete their degree work on time.

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