February 24th, 2006 17:07 EST
Less Money Doesn't Mean Lack of Success
Increased enrollment and slashed funding have gone hand in hand at the West Virginia University School of Journalism over the past ten years; the increasing number of students has provided the faculty with a plethora of challenges and rewards.
“We have had some great successes this year,” said Maryanne Reed, Acting Dean of the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism at WVU.
The school has seen an 84 percent increase in enrollment since 1999. In addition, with the record enrollment numbers that the School of Journalism is seeing, good and bad situations have begun to surface. Old facilities, lack of funding, and limited space for growth has forced the faculty to think about more than just the curriculum.
The increase in enrollment has brought on the need for improvements in the facilities that are used by the students.
“Most renovations are funded by the provost office,” said Reed.
Room 205, the main lecture room, has been slated for improvement. The School is replacing the seats, carpet, and lighting.
The 40 year-old equipment in room 202 is being taken down in order to make way for a new multimedia studio to suit the needs of an evolving media curriculum.
Although these improvements show that the school is moving forward, one fact is that over the past three years the School of Journalism has lost “Five percent of the permanent budget,” said Reed.
On top of that, another five percent of the mid-year budget has been taken away as well, giving the School of Journalism a total loss of ten percent of their budget.
This has caused the School of Journalism to seek funding from other sources to accommodate the growth it is experiencing. “The University is relying more on tuition,” said Reed.
This makes the School of Journalism more dependent on tuition as well.
However, with the need for improvements that has been presented, the fact that the state is projecting that funding for the school is going to be less than 25 percent means that the school of Journalism is going to be forced to find other sources for funding.
Where is the school going to find the money it needs for continued growth?
“We’re very lucky to have the entrepreneur system we have here,” said Dr. Ivan Pinnell associate dean for academics and graduate studies at the School of Journalism.
“We used to pay for our adjuncts just with the money we made off summer school,” said Dr. Pinnell.
Now Summer school is no longer the only moneymaker the School of Journalism has. The online Integrated Marketing Communications program and online undergraduate courses both add to the incoming cash that the school is able to draw from to pay faculty as well as make improvements to the school as a whole.
“It’s definitely becoming more business like,” says Pinnell.
The only way to keep the school running is by making money.
“Common sense would say larger enrollment equals more cash,” said Judy Johnson administrative assistant at the School of Journalism.
“More revenue means that we must be doing something right,” says Johnson.
Although enrollment has increased Johnson says that they have not lowered their standards in any way. This was a fact that Dr. Pinnell hit on as well.
“We are still more concerned with quality and not quantity,” said Dr. Pinnell.
The money brought by new students is not the only way the School of Journalism is beating the cuts to their funding. Projects like the “cancer project”, as Reed refers to it, not only attract more students to the school, but as a published book the project has become a potential cash bringer.
Many projects are available for undergrad students to work on. The cancer project was so successful that it won a Midwestern Regional Emmy.
The book titled “Cancer Stories: Lessons in Love, Loss, and Hope,” is not only a success story for the school and those who worked on it, but it is an example of how the school is turning assignments into dollars.
This book is an example of the kinds of projects that are offered for undergraduates as a “capstone experience”, said Reed. Another problem faced by the school is where to put all the new students.
“The ACC limits the number of seats we are allowed to have in skills classes,” said Pinnell.
Now, the number stands at 20 students, which is up from 16 when the last accrediting was done.
This makes for better student teacher ratios, but it also means more classrooms may be needed in the future to accommodate the increasing number of sections of classes that will be needed to maintain the 20-seat policy.
When asked if she thought a new building would ever be constructed Reed said “in a perfect world, yes.”
With the funding as it stands for the time being, however, the world seems far from perfect.
“There is about 100 years of tradition here at Martin Hall,” said Reed.
That being said, it might be hard to get contributors from the pool of investors who are supporters of not only the School of Journalism, but of the traditions at Martin Hall.
The lack of funding certainly has not stopped the growth of the School of Journalism in any way. The school has been able to overcome all its problems thus far, and turn the bad into good without lowering admission standards.
“What it takes is hard work, do not be a clock watcher, and do whatever it takes to do an excellent job,” said Reed.
Certainly the faculty at the school of journalism has done just that.