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Released May 23, 2005


HATTIESBURG Following successful efforts to broaden its diversity and to increase contact with its alumni, the School of Mass Communication and Journalism at The University of Southern Mississippi has been fully reaccredited.

The school was notified after a representative from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) visited the campus last February. Focusing on two areas of weakness determined during a visit last year, ACEJMC found the program to have recognized and met the accrediting agency's standards.

"While we expected this, it is still very good news," said Dr. David R. Davies, associate professor and interim director of the School of Mass Communication and Journalism. "It confirms that we have taken all steps necessary to come into full compliance with accreditation standards."

"The accrediting agency wanted us to increase the diversity of our full- and part-time faculty, and we did so. We have made several recent hires to add people of color to our teaching ranks. Moreover, we've increased our efforts to recruit minority students. This will pay big dividends for us, as the industry desperately needs more minorities so that reporters and editors can reflect the world they cover," Davies continued.

The chair of the site team, Dr. Jan Dates, dean of the School of Communications at Howard University, was delighted with the school's progress in implementing programs to meet diversity goals and increase contacts with alumni, Davies said.

"The agency also wanted us to increase our contacts with alumni, not just to stay in touch but also to bring alumni back to the classroom to enrich the education of our students," he said. To ensure this, the school created a Board of Advisors to help keep curriculum fresh and relevant, and the school is in the process of creating an alumni society to help it stay in touch with its graduates.

"The accrediting agency also wanted us to make sure our graduates learned to appreciate diversity issues. As a result, we brought in a consultant to help our faculty inject diversity issues throughout the curriculum," Davies said.

In early 2004, the School of Mass Communication and Journalism received provisional accreditation after failing to comply with two of the 12 accrediting standards. The school was given a year to come into full compliance, which it did.

"The college is thrilled with the reaccreditation as it demonstrates

that our Mass Comm programs are moving forward," said Dr. Denise von

Herrmann, associate dean of the College of Arts and Letters. "This area is becoming increasingly diverse and responsive to the needs of the industry."

Accreditation puts Southern Miss among the nation's elite professional media programs and underscores the quality education students have had and will continue to receive, said Dr. Art Kaul, assistant director of the School of Mass Communication and Journalism.

"For 20 years, Southern Miss' journalism program was nationally accredited," Kaul said. "When we created the School of Mass Communication and Journalism three years ago with the merger of the journalism and radio, television and film departments, national accreditation was a top priority. Accreditation of the newly formed School of Mass Communication and Journalism continues that tradition and serves as a stepping stone to greater things in the future."

Kaul said being nationally accredited makes a strong public statement about the quality of the faculty, students and curriculum. "We've been judged by stringent standards and by highly competent academic and professional evaluators. We passed the test," he said.

"The faculty worked conscientiously to make the School of Mass Communication and Journalism a program in which the taxpayers of Mississippi can be proud. We've worked hard to create and sustain a first-rate mass communication and journalism program. Accreditation tells us the faculty investment in hard work--teaching, research and public service--has returned an important benefit. Students will benefit and the state will benefit," Kaul said.


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July 22, 2005 1:46 PM