A team of academic leaders from across the country will visit the University of Colorado this week to evaluate the proposed College of Information, shedding new light on the future of the current journalism program.

After the School of Journalism and Mass Communication was discontinued in 2011, a committee of CU faculty and staff recommended creating an area of study that combines information, communication, technology, arts and media.

Three days this week a team of eight experts -- many of whom have experienced similar changes within their own institutions -- will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a College of Information proposal, said Jeffrey Cox, associate vice chancellor for faculty affairs.

"We have not told them to organize a college, but to help us figure out how to best organize our strengths in these areas," Cox said. "They'll provide some ideas for models and some of the specific kinds of advantages and challenges we'd face moving forward."

The committee will meet with constituent groups, campus leaders and some faculty and staff in the existing journalism program.

Cox said CU will not be obligated to comply with the recommendations of the committee, but it is likely that they will be considered as the university solidifies their future plans.

"We've kind of been in a phase where there are a lot of exciting ideas floating around," Cox said. "This would give us a goal to build around and make things a lot clearer."


Chris Braider, director of the Journalism and Mass Communication program, said the recommendations would satisfy the curiosity of those anxious about the curriculum's future.

Braider said he is confident in the idea of a new College of Information, but he is hoping the committee can help determine which departments might make good partnerships with the journalism and mass communications program.

If a college is formed, Cox said it would be the campus's first new college in about 50 years, ironically, following the formation of the JMC School.

The external evaluation is the first step in the final stage toward a new JMC program but the result could still be years away, Cox said.

"Starting a college is not an easy or quick process," Cox said. "In the meantime, all of our students will get the education they came here to get and if we reorganize, it won't alter a current student's ability to finish."

-- Follow Whitney Bryen on Twitter: @SoonerReporter.