Team chairs discuss changes
Accredited schools have been confronting the implications of the new standards for the past several months, especially the schools that have produced self-studies for this year. Now, it's the turn for the site teams, the Accrediting Committee and the Council.
Site team chairs met in Chicago Sept. 1 to discuss handling teams, assignment of duties, evaluation of various activities, interpretation of the new standards and more. Twenty-three team chairs heard presentations by Doug Anderson, Committee chair, Trevor Brown, chair of the Standards Review Committee, Saundra Keyes, Council president, and Will Norton, Council vice president.
Out of a day of discussion came greater understanding and one procedural decision. Team chairs will be responsible this year for writing the section of the team report on assessment.
"I thought that we had a terrific workshop session with the team chairs," Anderson said. "We covered a lot of ground, knowing full well that, with the new nine-standard format, none of us can operate on automatic pilot."
Discussions focused on three publications: the 2005 - 2006 edition of the Council's directory book; a revised site team manual; and a pamphlet called ACEJMC's New standards: guidelines in interpretation and application. These publications have been widely distributed. Copies are available from the executive office (click here for contact information).
Anderson told the chairs that, because of the collapsed standards, more teamwork would be necessary. He said in some respects it might be more difficult to reach fair and consistent decisions. He said the changes would affect not only the teams' work but also the dynamics of Committee and Council discussions.
Keyes spoke about the changes she anticipated in the role of professional members of teams. She said the change from 12 to nine standards would make it difficult to assign whole standards to professional team members, as has been common in the past. She said the collaboration among team members would increase, and perhaps more team-only group time would be necessary during the visit.
Norton brought a list of challenging questions for his co-panelists. He probed the difficulty of dealing with weaknesses related to subjects like alumni relations, internships or budgets, which are no longer free-standing standards. He said competencies and indicators were important, but context and common sense were critical.
The Council met the next day. Numerous members had attended the chairs' session and expressed appreciation for it. Council member Joe Foote said the training was reassuring to all involved.
The Council agreed at its September meeting to ask schools for expanded information about their teaching of ethics but decided, at least for now, not to change the standards or accrediting process.
The Council supported the idea, proposed by Jerry Ceppos, chair of the Ethics Committee, of sending to schools a simple, open-ended request for information about ethics instruction. Ceppos said the committee would have special interest in activities that schools thought were unusual or especially effective.
The committee will organize results of this survey of schools and report on it in May. This survey will build on a preliminary census of ethics courses assembled by Council and Ethics Committee member Terry Hynes and her assistant, Karen Cody, at the University of Florida.
This census was based on web postings and limited to courses with ethics either in the title or prominent in the description. Hynes said that, because of this method, the census probably missed some courses in which ethics was taught. Even so, at the 107 schools, they found 151 courses; about half the schools required a course in ethics.
In addition, two administrators whose schools will be reviewed in 2006 - 2007 volunteered to include in their self-studies more expansive information about teaching of ethics. Doug Anderson of Pennsylvania State and Pam Luecke of Washington and Lee agreed also to complete this information early, in time for the Council to consider it in May.
Council President Saundra Keyes named the Ethics Committee in response to a series of well-publicized ethical lapses by professional practitioners. Members of the committee are: Jerry Ceppos, chair; Caesar Andrews, Hub Brown, Barbara Cochran, Jannette Dates, Robert Dodge, Steve Geimann, Terry Hynes, Judy Nadler, John Paluszek, Paul Parsons, Dot Ridings and Linda Shipley.
Many say, and some studies have seemed to show, that when it comes to faculty diversity, accredited schools are not much better than non-accredited schools. An advance report of a new study tends to show that's not true.
The study compared policies related to recruitment and retention of minority faculty and graduate students at accredited and non-accredited schools. It showed that accredited schools were more likely than non-accredited schools to use aggressive measures to recruit minority faculty, pursue minority hires, retain minorities and assist junior faculty seeking promotion. Accredited schools were more than four times as likely to use some measures as were non-accredited schools.
Council members saw the advance report at their September meeting. It was conducted for a committee of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. The committee was established to report on ways to achieve AEJMC's diversity goals, first adopted in 1997 and revised in 2005.
The study was conducted by Federico Subervi, professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Texas State University - San Marcos, and Tania Cantrell, research assistant, School of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin.
Schools seeking initial accreditation will be required to arrange a pre-visit review through the ACEJMC executive office, the Council decided in September.
This arrangement will ensure that schools receive advice from individuals familiar with the Council's current practices and expectations. In the past, Executive Director Susanne Shaw has encouraged schools to seek advice but has not directed their choice of the reviewer.
Schools may invite more than one pre-accreditation reviewer, but at least one must be arranged through the ACEJMC office.
Shaw maintains an extensive list of qualified individuals. Schools will have numerous options and can minimize travel expenses. Schools pay only the consultants' direct expenses for travel, lodging and meals.
ACEJMC has adopted several changes in its standards, policies and procedures in the past few years. As a result, administrators and members of the Committee, Council and site visit teams easily could be confused by the overlapping schedule as the changes become effective in the various phases of the accrediting process. The following timeline is intended to clarify the schedule.
The note "continues" indicates that the change is in effect continuously after the time listed.
Council member Jerry Ceppos retired from his position as vice president/news, Knight Ridder, effective Aug. 31. He had held the job since 1999. Ceppos served for six years as president of the Accrediting Council and now represents the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) on the Council.
As Council president, Ceppos pressed for constant improvement of the accreditation process, with special focus on ethics education and on diversity of both populations and curricula.
He is a past president of the Associated Press Managing Editors (APME) and served two terms as president of the California Society of Newspaper Editors. Ceppos has chaired the journalism-education committees of both ASNE and APME. He was a Pulitzer Prize juror in 1996 and 1997. In 2002, ASJMC awarded Ceppos the Gerald M. Sass Award for Distinguished Service to Journalism and Mass Communications. In 1997, the Society of Professional Journalists gave Ceppos one of its first three national Ethics in Journalism Awards.
Ceppos said he intended to devote time to journalistic ethics, education and overall improvement, in academic settings as well as newsrooms.
University of Georgia
USF St. Petersburg
Northwestern State University
University of Oklahoma
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Auburn University Department of Communication and Journalism
Grambling State University Department of Mass Communication
Hampton University Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications
Iona College Department of Mass Communication
President, Accrediting Council
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Vice Chair, Accrediting Committee