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School of Communication Pursues Coveted ACEJMC Accreditation
By Alexis Goodwin
The School of Communication has officially embarked on pursuing accreditation by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.
Currently only four universities in Virginia namely -- Hampton University, Norfolk State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Washington, and Lee University -- hold this distinction. Only two are public institutions.
Dr. Matthew Smith, the director of the School of Communication, said accreditation will be a really big distinction for the school particularly in competing against other public universities in the state.
“It gives you an advantage in recruiting and in competing for resources,” he added.
According to Smith, the decision to move forward with pursuing the accreditation process was finalized at a faculty meeting in August 2016. Reaching this distinction is no simple task. The program will have to undergo an extensive internal self-study, a site visit from members of the council, and finally face the accrediting decision.
“We’re going to have to prove ourselves if we’re going to get that nod, so it’s going to be some work, but we are ready to do it,” Smith said.
The first steps the program has taken have been to educate themselves on the process and what will be required to move ahead. Additionally, an ACEJMC pre visit has been scheduled. It will take place from May 8-11.
Smith noted that the pre visit will be an opportunity to converse with ACEJMC about what the school is doing and what needs to be done to move forward.
“We would have from them a timeline about whether we are in a situation where we are prepared to undergo the self-study this coming year or if they think that we have work to do before that,” Smith added about the significance of the pre visit.
The focus for the School of Communication at this point in the process is to remain proactive. At a faculty retreat earlier this month the school began to strategically go through the curriculum offered and match it to the expectations set forth by ACEJMC.
“We began to identify places that we think are potential weaknesses in our curriculum,” Smith said, “and [to] talk about ways that we can begin to bolster them up so that whether it’s next year or the following year [that the self study would begin], we’re already … taking care of those things.”
While the School of Communication will not have its next move in this process solidified until May, the program as a whole has accomplished so much and has the potential to reach national standards.