Photo by Katherine Bauer.
BY SYDNEY FORD
Drake University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) has been continually accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC), since 1972.
Every six years, ACEJMC sends a five-person team consisting of media professionals and educators to conduct in-person reviews of the effectiveness of Drake’s program. ACEJMC “holds the hosting school to a higher set of standards, which sets them apart from universities who may not be accredited,” said Mallory Quinn, assistant to the SJMC dean.
“Only 111 journalism programs are accredited worldwide, with only 11 being private institutions,” said Dr. Kelly Bruhn, SJMC associate dean. “Drake is in an elite group, one of few in the Midwest and the only private program in Iowa.”
The ACEJMC performed a site visit from Feb. 12 through Feb. 15. While on campus, the site team talked to students and evaluated faculty members by visiting their classes to assess them individually.
SJMC faculty and staff worked diligently the year before to create a cohesive self-study made up of hundreds of pages of reports, team reviews and statistical data that was sent to the ACEJMC accrediting team as a precursor to the site visit.
Although she claimed she was simply a small part of the bigger picture, Quinn played an essential role in compiling student data and reports for ACEJMC to analyze.
“It is different for the site team to look at what is on paper versus looking at the school from within,” Quinn said.
Essentially, the team analyzed the school’s effectiveness at upholding their own standards and core values, as well as the standards the ACEJMC sets for all accredited institutions.
According to the ACEJMC website, site teams look for set standards in nine categories:
- mission, governance and administration
- curriculum and instruction; diversity and inclusiveness
- full-time and part-time faculty; scholarship: research, creative and professional activity; student services
- resources, facilities and equipment
- professional and public service
- assessment of learning outcomes.
The site team was especially interested in SJMC students’ perceptions of the education they were receiving.
On Feb. 13, ACEJMC met with a group of SJMC students, followed by major-specific student breakout sessions.
In the first meeting, the site team asked students to share their likes and dislikes about SJMC. Many students commented on their feeling of preparedness due to positive and inclusive faculty-student relations, real- world experience while in the classroom, service-learning, as well as the ability to make what they want of their education in the SJMC with faculty guidance and support.
“The end result is to not only graduate or to get a career, but obtain one that you love and are passionate about,” said junior advertising major Katie Kurka. “The SJMC is constantly helping me do that.”
After the ACEJMC team left, it compiled its recommendation that the SJMC should continue to be accredited. This recommendation will continue to pass up through various committees until it reaches the top tier of the ACEJMC for a final vote on April 29.
As in any review, the ACEJMC recommended various improvements within the SJMC. But generally the team was impressed with the education students were receiving through set standards and recommended that the school should continue to be accredited.