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The Department of Journalism and Public Relations is one of only three journalism and mass communications programs in Ohio that are accredited by the nationally recognized accrediting body.

And the BGSU program is primed to maintain that distinction—shared with Kent State and Ohio universities—after its full-reaccreditation was recommended to the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC).

Making the recommendation was a four-member team that evaluated the department in person three weeks ago. That team will present the department’s case in its report to the ACEJMC Accrediting Committee—composed of educators and industry representatives—which will meet in March to make its recommendations to the full council, which then meets in May.

The visiting team’s recommendation is “a huge deal,” said Dr. Jim Foust, department chair. “It’s an affirmation of what we’re doing,” he added, saying that the favorable comparison with other journalism programs nationwide is important to both students and parents.

The department is part of BGSU’s School of Media and Communication, whose director, Dr. Terry Rentner, said she’s “fully confident” that the ACEJMC will concur with the visiting team’s conclusion.

The recommendation came after a three-day visit by the team of Drs. Barbara Bealor Hines, Kathleen Kelly and Paul Voakes, journalism and mass communication educators at Howard University, the University of Florida and the University of Colorado-Boulder, respectively, along with Dan Shelley, executive editor of digital media for WCBS-TV and WCBSTV.com in New York City.

They talked to journalism faculty and students, spent time in most journalism classes and met with upper-level administrators, including President Carol Cartwright. They also talked to other department chairs and faculty who have journalism students in their classes, to hear how those students are perceived and compare with their non-journalism peers. “The conclusion was our students are very, very strong,” Rentner said.

Among the journalism program strengths cited by the visitors were student diversity and media organizations.

“In the six years since the previous accreditation visit, the percentage of Latino and African-American students in the unit rose from 10 percent to 26 percent,” according to the team’s report on departmental diversity. That makes the department more diverse than the BGSU student body as a whole, noted Rentner. She largely credited previous President Sidney Ribeau and his emphasis on recruitment of Detroit-area minority students, some of whom are studying journalism.

The team’s praise of student media organizations didn’t surprise Rentner, who said co-curricular programs have always been a strength of the department. Engaged in student media and professional organizations, students gain practical experience—and it’s not just journalism majors and minors, she said, pointing out that in any given semester, 400-600 people participate in campus media.

Also among the strengths listed by the visitors were students “who are passionate about their chosen professions”; “hard-working, accessible and caring” faculty, and public and community service initiatives.

The team’s October stay in Bowling Green was the latest step in a reaccreditation process that began about a year ago. It also included a written, departmental self-study that reached about 175 pages of narrative plus 500 pages of appendices.


 
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November 9, 2009

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