External review panel's report on journalism and communication education at CU-Boulder
Journalism at CU

For more information on the CU-Boulder external review process, visit academicaffairs.colorado.edu.

As University of Colorado administrators work to reform journalism education, a panel of outside scholars is suggesting the Boulder campus take a two-step approach to first create a new information college, then potentially roll in art, theater and film studies.

The outside report released Wednesday afternoon signals general support of an earlier university committee that a year ago proposed creating a new College of Media, Design and the Arts.

But the seven scholars who make up the external review committee -- academics at other universities acting as consultants -- suggest that CU begin by creating a new college to house journalism, information, design and communication students. The scholars suggest a second phase in which art and art history, film studies, theater and dance, and music eventually are merged with the new college or come together as a college of their own.

In 2011, the university formally closed its traditional School of Journalism and Mass Communication, through students still can earn degrees in journalism at CU. In fact, Christopher Braider, the campus's director of journalism and mass communication, said enrollment is slightly up since last year, with a total of about 800 students in the department, of which roughly 10 percent are graduate students.

The external review committee's members visited CU last month and met with various deans, chairs, directors and faculty members from across the campus.

The outside report cautions CU about bringing together too many disciplines.

"The committee found the most recent report (an internal CU analysis) to lack intellectual coherence, bringing together too many different disciplines without having fully worked out their relation to each other," the panel wrote in its report.

For example, it may make sense to group "new media art" in the new school, but not art history. The reviewers suggest the two-step approach so that CU can thoroughly examine and discuss which disciplines should be grouped together.

CU Provost Russell Moore said he hopes to "chart a course" for a new entity -- whether it be a college, school, institute or program -- by the end of the current semester.

It takes more than 11/2 years to approve a new degree program, which must get a final OK from CU's governing Board of Regents. Developing a new entity such as a school or college could take even longer, campus officials said.

Moore said his receipt and public release of the external report does not necessarily mean he agrees with it or endorses the recommendations being made. But, he said, the report will be a part of the university's ongoing conversations about how the campus should move forward with information, communication, journalism, media and technology education.

The work of the external review committee has been completed, said Jeffrey Cox, associate vice chancellor for faculty affairs. Now CU is asking for responses from faculty members and other who want to weigh in on the report.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or anasb@dailycamera.com.