Indiana University Provost Lauren Robel has written a detailed explanation of why the university is merging its schools of journalism, communications, telecommunications and film studies.
The document doesn’t begin with a great deal of promise; it cites an Internet search as justification for the move — “Of the hundreds of articles one can quickly find by searching the web for ‘the future of journalism,’ it is hard to find one that does not focus on convergence of platforms.”
But Robel goes on to make more compelling arguments. IU’s journalism school, she writes, is “tiny, with a combined expenditure budget of about $7 million.” How small is it? You’d have to merge it with two other schools just to make it bigger than the school of optometry…
Even combined, a school containing only Journalism, Telecommunications, and Communication and Culture would have just $14.4 million in annual expenditures, 2.6% of the overall academic expenditure budget in Bloomington. While combined, such a school would be slightly larger than Optometry, which consists of a small and focused graduate program, and has annual expenditures of $9.2 million.
Combining the programs would give the j-school more heft when designing a curriculum that represents journalism’s new realities, Robel argues. She noted that the plan “has generated a great deal of controversy, almost all of it focusing on — administrative structure!”
As an institution, though, our moral obligation is to set our compasses toward how best to educate our students for their futures, not on how to preserve our past. We need the courage to trust in our mutual commitment to values that place the search for knowledge and educational excellence first, and the administrative structures that support them a far second.