UW Oshkosh journalism department meets accreditation standards

Jessica Johnson

The UW Oshkosh journalism department was deemed compliant in all nine standards after being evaluated by a team from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. The ACEJMC has the following nine standards: mission, governance and administration; curriculum and instruction; diversity and inclusiveness; full-time and part-time faculty; scholarships: research, creative and professional activity; student services; resources, facilities and equipment; professional and public services and assessment and learning outcomes. Journalism department Chairman Timothy Gleason said the department is evaluated every six years, and this is the first time it has been fully compliant in many years. “[The site team] said this is unusual for a program,” Gleason said. “It’s more likely to be non-compliant than compliant, but you can be compliant and in the end not get reaccredited, or you can be non-compliant in an area and be accredited. It’s an easier argument for the site team to make at the different levels for reaccreditation if you’re compliant in all standards.” Gleason said certain programs, including the journalism program, don’t have to be accredited to operate, but it is beneficial to students, faculty and the University to be accredited. “To be compliant meets a certain threshold of expectation of what is good enough for accreditation,” Gleason said. Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said he is delighted with the recent outcome from the ACEJMC evaluations. “They confirmed what we already knew,” Leavitt said. “Our department of journalism provides high-quality education to students who go onto fruitful professional lives. I congratulate Dr. Tim Gleason and members of the department for their excellent work.” According to Gleason, the department relies on support from outside sources such as admissions, advisors, the provost, the dean of students and the Chancellor for a variety of things, such as updating computer labs or getting money to hire a faculty member. “It takes that continuing support from some level to be able to help in those areas we don’t have control over for accreditation, so we need that, and I think they’ve been supportive of us and that’s demonstrated in being compliant in all nine areas,” Gleason said. Journalism student Kathryn Kubasta said she thinks it is awesome the journalism department passed the accreditation process. “Being an accredited program is a great thing for students, faculty and the university,” Kubasta said. “I am really glad to be a part of a quality journalism program.” Assistant Professor of Digital Media Shu-Yueh Lee said she is happy and excited that the department is compliant in all nine standards. “Our whole department, the faculty members, staff and students all worked very hard to show our efforts and commitment to this program,” Lee said. “I am glad they can evaluate our work and give us positive feedback.” Lee said the accreditation process is important for the department and University because it keeps the program going in the right direction and also ensures continued improvement. “It is good to have people come to our department and give some feedback to make sure we are keeping a quality program,” Lee said. “They make sure we are helping students, providing proper instructions, good faculty and updated curriculum and technology.” According to Gleason, there are many benefits for students to be a part of an accredited program, and the site team outlines and directs the department to implement benefits such as a cap on the hands-on courses and pairing courses with the right professors. “There [are] all these different areas [the site team] looks at to make sure that the students are going to get the information from the right people and have the right tools available to them,” Gleason said. Gleason said having an accredited program is a great recruiting tool to draw in potential journalism students to UWO and to differentiate itself from other universities. “A lot of times people think about the general reputation of a college or the location, but a huge factor for a student going through a program is to be in the right program, a right fit, so it’s really a benefit for us to recruit you and also for the University,” Gleason said. According to Gleason, although the journalism department met all the standards, the site team still has to make a report and present its findings. “In March the site team makes a report to the accrediting community, and then in May there is a report to the accrediting council,” Gleason said. “We are optimistic, but the final decision is not until the May meeting. We are happy with where we are because that will make the rest of the process easier.” Gleason said the department will continue to move forward to improve the areas that were identified as needing improvement or change and will track them out in terms of short-term, mid-term and long-term. “Some things we can say we’ll hit this year,” Gleason said. “Others maybe we hit in two or three years. Other things are going to take four or five years to hit, but we will identify them and in a sense, map them out over time to address each one.”