Volume XXIX Issue 10 October 30, 2003

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  School of Communications searches for new faculty
Jay Dorne - Reporter

Professor Ray Johnson is chair of one of the committees that will soon begin looking through applications for the four available faculty positions. The school is looking for individuals with highly-specialized experiences.

Jeff Heyer/Photographer

Elonís School of Communications is conducting a faculty search this year to find four tenure-track professors as the school makes plans to further develop its curriculum.

According to Paul Parsons, dean of the School of Communications, the focus of this yearís faculty search is toward production and skills-oriented instruction, rather than the theory-based teaching that the school sought after in previous years.

"In last yearís search, we had four new faculty hires to teach courses with more of a conceptual emphasis," Parsons said. "These professors are now teaching courses such as Communications in a Global Society, Media and Culture and International Communications. This year, when we looked at our curriculum and the courses our students had to take, we realized we really needed a stronger emphasis on production."

Only one of the four offered positions will focus on theory-based teaching, including the introductory course, media writing and broadcast journalism. The other three positions involve digital media, video and film production and Web publishing, among other technical skills.

Faculty search chairs Connie Book and Ray Johnson have split the responsibility of heading the searches, each supervising two of the hires. In addition to technical communications skills, there is a major focus on Elonís traditional criteria for seeking faculty with a love of teaching, strong professional experience, a collegial spirit, a commitment to university and professional service and the ability to meaningfully engage in scholarship or creative activity.

Since it achieved school status in 2000, the School of Communications has grown at an extraordinary pace, now containing 20 percent of the student population. According to Parsons, the growth is attributed to improvements in personnel, technology and careful planning.

Among developments set for the future, the School of Communications plans to host a site visit team from the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication during the 2005-2006 academic year. Of the 110 ACEJMC accredited schools in the nation, private institutions only make up 18 of them, Parsons said.

Parsons, who came to Elon in 2001 from the accredited Kansas State University and has been through the accreditation process three times, believes that Elon has a relatively strong program with a good chance of gaining accreditation once the necessary steps are taken.

Parsons pointed out that the only remaining requirement to host an accreditation visit from the ACEJMC is the establishment of a curriculum guideline.

The school must graduate two classes in which every student in the School of Communications graduates with 80 credit hours outside the school, 65 of which must be in the arts and sciences. It has been a requirement in the past two academic catalogues, but the guideline does not impact this yearís seniors or juniors.

"About 80 percent of our students graduate today in compliance with both rules, but that is not good enough. The remaining 20 percent are taking more and more electives inside the School of Communications. They like our classes and we are glad for that, but we want them out there taking more philosophy, psychology and economics," Parsons said.

The faculty searches and developmental processes are aimed at improving the schoolís academic approach, rather than changing it. Academic characteristics such as small class sizes and student interaction with professors are still key aspects of the school.

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