Central Michigan University: 'Accreditation not necessary'

The economy is horrendous. (As if you did not know this already.)

Tens of thousands of jobs are being cut seemingly every month. (I’m sure you knew that too.)

Over the last five years or so, the media has forgone some huge changes. (That, you may not have known.) It seems, however, the last twelve months have experienced the most change.

The Tribune Company filed for bankruptcy in December (read my reaction here, Job Security…) and in the last few weeks, the journalism department at Central Michigan University has decided to drop its accreditation.

Journalism schools throughout the country receive accreditation for a period of six years, and in order to keep their accreditation the program must be dissected by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, the national accrediting body for journalism schools.

In 1996, the journalism department at CMU received its first accreditation, becoming the second school in Michigan to hold such title; Michigan State University was the other.

The department had its accreditation renewed in 2002.

For three days in November, members of the ACEJMC visited CMU’s campus to re-evaluate the journalism department. These members sat in during classes, and held meetings with students to get their views on the department. I attended one of those meetings, so the ACEJMC member could get an idea of how other students and myself thought about the faculty and the program. After all, the student view is important, right?

We thought so.

A week or so later, the ACEJMC gave the department a “provisionary” accreditation because it had not met two standards on ACEJMC’s evaluation. Those two standards were diversity and assessment.

Then, a few weeks ago, the journalism department decides to not accept their provisional accreditation. Did they consult the students in making such an important decision? Negative.

Quite the marketing strategy, I know.

Three and a half years ago when I switched majors to journalism, there were three schools I was looking at.

My first choice, and the most unrealistic of the three, was Florida Atlantic University, mainly because I wanted to get out of Michigan. The reason I am not in j-school in Florida? Out of state tuition is $600+ a credit hour.

My other two choices were Michigan State and Central Michigan. Why those two? They both had accredited journalism schools. Why did I end up at Central? Because East Lansing is too big of a city for me and I didn’t want to write the essay. I am a journalism student at Central Michigan University because when I applied, they had an accredited program – and now they’re getting rid of it.

What does this mean? We don’t really know yet. I feel this means the department doesn’t care for their students anymore. What am I supposed to say after I graduate? “Hi, my name is Chris Schanz, and I graduated from a program that was accredited when I started, but dropped it during my senior year” ?? What else am I supposed to say?

Department Chairwoman Maria Marron said the idea to drop the accreditation status was best for students as the department would be “better off not having to form to accreditation standards.” From the prospective of the faculty, it may seem that it is in the best interest for the students. But why wouldn’t they talk to the students directly to let us know their plan and allow us to voice our opinions?

No one really knows.

With the great shape newspapers and media outlets are in around the country (that was a joke), the jobs that are being cut, editors being consolidated and media corporations outright going bankrupt, I am once again wondering if I have chosen the right career…

I graduated high school five and a half years ago. Journalism is my third major and career choice since then. It is too late and not financially feasible for me to switch yet again.

Looks like I’m not going to make a ton of money, if I even HAVE a job. Might as well take my chances at winning the lottery…


One thought on “Central Michigan University: 'Accreditation not necessary'

  1. hey there chris. as this news is a blow to you the student and it makes whatever confidence you had in your choice of majors waver, keep in mind that talent is hired with or without accredation (correct word???). The whole economy is in shambles right now, from medical care to journalism to car sales/repair. It is all a mess. You stated that it is not practical to change majors again and you are right. What you need to hold on to is that you are good at what you do and you are only getting better, accredited schooling or not. There are hundreds of jouranists out there in Michigan that did not go to MSU or CMU I would be willing to bet a decent portion of my meager, no degree having salary on that. Keep your drive, keep your passion and my god, keep your desire to further your knowledge and your skill. Because your college decides not to follow up on staying accredited should not change your ideals to better yourself. Keep fighting the good fight brother and I will be there when you graduate, as a Chippewa…

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