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
"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.