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Mass Comm confusion shows lack of shared governance


In the last two months, the School of Mass Communications has been the subject of much scrutiny and criticism. 

The school was up for reaccreditation this year and was placed on a two-year probationary status from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) as a result of its internal review in January. 

The reality of the situation is that the ACEJMC review only mentioned a few aspects the school needed to address – the most pertinent being a deficiency in governance. But the series of events in the month after USF received the provisional accreditation would suggest that the notion not to pursue accreditation was made without widespread knowledge or consent of the mass communications faculty, perhaps reflective of ineficiant shared governance. 

In fact, President Judy Genshaft, Provost Ralph Wilcox and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Eric Eisenberg decided to abandon accreditation during the time period when Interim Director Gil Thelen was negotiating with them to grant him permanent directorship so he could negotiate with the ACEJMC
to reconsider. 

There is no doubt that state universities are indeed massive bureaucracies as Eisenberg pointed out in an email. Situations such as these do not simply work themselves out regardless of how easy the solutions may seem to be; the proverbial red tape is endless.  But Eisenberg said some faculty members were consulted when the changes were being made, though many mass communications faculty said they did not know anyone who was consulted. 

There is no reason for university administrators to have made such a decision without respecting the college’s presumed principles of shared governance.  

The whole scenario is undoubtedly unfortunate for all parties involved. It has created a disconnect between not only the students in the school but also between the professors and the university’s administration. 

Though USF may no longer be pursuing ACEJMC accreditation, the concerns of governance are still valid and USF should proceed with caution as the school rebuilds itself, respecting the traditions of shared governance prized by perhaps a greater-valued accreditation body – the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).