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College of Information and Communications

February 2017

From the Dean . . .

How are we doing?

The accreditors have been here.  And the accreditors are coming.  Both our schools are going through a periodic evaluation this spring.  It’s good to find out how we are doing through others’ eyes, even if we think we are doing pretty well.

A team from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications has just wrapped up evaluating our undergraduate and Master of Mass Communication degrees.  In March, a team from the American Library Association will do much the same for our School of Library and Information Science program.

The three-day, on-campus visits are the culmination of a lot of preparatory work on our part.  Andrea Tanner and David Lankes, the school directors, are responsible for submitting massive self-studies that are really our own assessments of how we are doing.  David had his predecessor, Sam Hastings to lay the groundwork for him.           

Dr. Tanner’s report is a nearly 200-page volume chock full of data and description of all we do.  The accreditors, having devoured the self-study, say their role when here is to verify what they’ve read.

For both accrediting bodies, we provide information about our mission and goals, the curricula, our approach to diversity, the strengths of our faculty in their teaching and research, the resources we provide students in terms of student services and facilities, our outreach to communities and the learning outcomes we desire for our students. 

The ACEJMC team told us we’ve met all nine standards.  Way to go, everyone. The accreditors noted some highlights: “Student services, a weakness six years ago, now provides outstanding advising and service to students.”  And they give us guidance.  We can all work harder to strengthen our diversity.  We’ll get the final word later this spring.

Both schools have been continuously accredited for decades.  We certainly hope to continue that.

Why do we do this?  It’s a good way to see ourselves through others’ eyes, rather than looking in the mirror.  It measures our aims and accomplishments against those of our peer institutions.  It preserves standards across the spectrum of schools that share our disciplines. 

This is accreditation, not ranking.  These are standards, not perceptions or reputations. We are pleased that we are among the scores of accredited programs —‌ departments, schools, colleges — both through ACEJMC and ALA that meet these standards of excellence.

We’re always glad when the process is over.  We learn a lot about ourselves, but it’s a lot of work.  To be honest, it’s far more work for our directors than for the dean, but I sweat out the process with them. 

ACEJMC accreditation comes every six years.  ALA is on a seven-year cycle.  This year they happened to coincide.  Lucky us.  That will happen again in 42 years, 2059.  Whew.


Charles Bierbauer

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