The Arkansas State University Board of Trustees has approved a resolution to create the School of Media and Journalism at the Jonesboro campus as an area of excellence in the College of Liberal Arts and Communication.
System President Chuck Welch told members of the ASU Board of Trustees at its meeting that the journalism and radio-television programs always remained intact after departments were combined to create the Department of Media and the College of Media and Communication was folded into the new college in September 2015. The new name, however, resulted in challenges with program identity.
“The school will have a higher profile with this name change,” Welch says. “Our journalism and radio-television programs have long been premier fields of study and many prominent media members around the state are graduates of Arkansas State. We never abandoned journalism in our curriculum. But renaming the department will provide greater focus and let everyone know we’re proud of this marquee program with a long tradition of excellence.
“Arkansas State has been known for producing the highest quality of journalists, nurses and teachers, as well as the largest quantities of them in their respective fields,” Welch says. “The School of Media and Journalism name is consistent with our schools of nursing and education as key focuses of the university.”
The number of students majoring in traditional print journalism was in decline prior to the name change in 2015. However, the fall 2018 total enrollment in the School of Media and Journalism is 328, which is up 53 students or 19 percent since 2015.
“What we’re seeing is more students pursuing areas such as multimedia journalism, public relations, social media management and digital media management where jobs are more plentiful,” says Dr. Kelly Damphousse, chancellor at Arkansas State. “That said, we recognize the importance of core journalism education in all of these fields, and we want to be responsive to the many alumni and media constituencies who have encouraged this naming change. Our journalism and media programs will continue to address the needs of the fast-changing communication landscape.”
Welch told trustees that the ASU System’s annual legislative audit showed no findings for any of the campuses or the system office.
“This is very rare,” he says. “It speaks to the quality of our campus and system financial and audit folks.”
The board approved a recommendation to eliminate health insurance benefits in the Early Retirement Benefits Policy for any new employees and eligible spouses effective Jan. 1. Current employees in the system will not be affected.
Welch said institutional financial reporting conditions for the ASU System and many other higher education institutions are being adversely impacted because of the liability cost that must be included in financial statements.
The board elected Niel Crowson to serve as chair for 2019. Stacy Crawford was elected vice chair, and Price Gardner will serve as secretary.
In other business, the Board:
• Granted an easement on the ASU-Newport campus to the City of Newport for economic development.
• Approved ASU-Newport to offer a Technical Certificate in Criminal Justice, a Certificate of Proficiency in Criminal Justice and a Certificate of Proficiency in Aesthetics.
• Approved ASU Mid-South to offer the Certificate of Proficiency in Welding Fabrication/Fitter.
• Approved three naming resolutions to recognize contributions to A-State: Room 230 in the Lab Sciences West Building will become the DENSO Mechanical Engineering Laboratory; Room 130U in the Arkansas Biosciences Building will become the Hytrol Materials Handling Laboratory; and the Tutoring Lab in the Computer Science and Mathematics Building will become the Katherine Overstreet Logan Mathematics Learning Commons.
• Approved ASU-Mountain Home’s request to offer the Associate of Applied Science degree in Programming/Mobile Development, a Technical Certificate in Programming/Mobile Development and a Certificate of Proficiency in Programming/Mobile Development.
• Approved Sandy Teague as a new member of the ASU-Newport Board of Visitors.