AUSTIN, Texas—Dr. Ellen Wartella, dean of the College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin, has announced that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved a request to change the department of journalism to the School of Journalism. The change will become effective Jan. 1, 2001. Along with the name change, the title of chair of journalism will change to director of journalism.
“The designation of the journalism program as a “school” puts us in a much better academic position relative to our peer programs — the very best journalism programs in the country. These are the programs with which we compete for resources from various professional associations, for strong faculty and for graduate students, ” said Wartella.
“The designation of the term ïschool’ denotes a strong professional commitment on the part of the journalism program. This is particularly true for our colleagues in the practice of journalism for whom any name other than a ïSchool of Journalism’ holds that program as suspect in its professional commitments. The designation of the program as a ïschool’ will be viewed much more positively by the professionals in the journalism community who hire our students and to whom we increasingly turn for support of our programs. Now is the time to reinvigorate the program’s public acknowledgement of its commitment to professional journalism education,” she said.
The College of Communication is conducting a national search for a new head of the journalism program. Current chair Stephen Reese, who will step down in summer 2001, said, “This step underscores the crucial importance of journalism within the College of Communication and validates the professional role we have played for many years. The department label has never done justice to the role of our program, which is larger and more complex than most schools or colleges of journalism in the country.”
Wartella commented, “The faculty’s and my hope is that this search will cast our net very broadly for someone who will engage our faculty and students with the considerably exciting changes that journalism is undergoing in this age of technological media development.”
The School of Journalism has 800 undergraduates and 80 graduate students in the master’s and doctoral programs. It offers a comprehensive range of journalism skills training, including programs in print, multimedia, photo and broadcast journalism. Graduates of the program have won 18 Pulitzer Prizes. Among the notable alumnae are Walter Cronkite, Bill Moyers and Lady Bird Johnson. It also is home to the Knight Chair in International Journalism that was created by a $1.5 million endowment from the James L. and John S. Knight Foundation. The endowments were granted to only 14 universities in the country, each with a specialization in professional journalism.