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August 25, 2003

Journalism Department Accredited

The Department of Journalism has joined an elite list of programs, becoming one of only about 100 programs in the world - and the only journalism program in New England - to be accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC).

"This gives us national exposure," says Maureen Croteau, professor and head of the department. "Now, when students outside Connecticut are looking for journalism programs, they'll hear about us. High school counselors recommend accredited schools and departments, and now we're among them. This stamp of approval gives high school students a guarantee they will receive a quality education at UConn."

The accrediting team, headed by Thomas Kunkel, dean of the College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, lauded the department for its efforts to encourage journalism students undertake second majors. He noted that, "remarkably, 40 percent do."

The accrediting team's evaluation report also states, "other departments indicate that journalism is well-known for its hard work, the large number of majors it shepherds, and for the outsize impact it has. The unit also gets high marks for accommodating non-journalism students in its introductory writing course," helping hundreds of students fulfill the University's writing requirement.

"I was very impressed with the program," said Kunkel. "It's extraordinary what this small program takes on, between the non-journalism students and the double-majors. I think this department can be held up as a model for what a smallish program should be. Hopefully, it will be able to grow in the future."

The department also gleaned praise from state and national media outlets, the report said. "We have never been disappointed with students from UConn," the evaluation quoted one media executive as saying.

The department has been able to handle the student load, the report says, despite having only six full-time faculty. And one of those six, John Breen, retired this summer.

Croteau said faculty and staff have been working on the accreditation project for several years, undergoing a pre-accreditation review in 2000, and a comprehensive self-study that was completed in 2002. That was followed by site visits by the accreditation team, which recommended accreditation to the council.

UConn began offering a major in journalism in 1979. Since then, Croteau says, nearly 650 students have graduated, most of whom have secured jobs in journalism or journalism-related careers. Alumni work at newspapers, TV and radio newsrooms, magazines and specialty publications across the nation and in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

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