Temple University’s Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and Advertising issued mandatory advising sessions for all sophomores and juniors to correct what an accrediting agency called “gross misconduct.” The deadline for these sessions was Feb. 25.
The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications has put Temple’s JPRA Department on provisional accreditation, which means the department must prove to the council it has addressed the problems highlighted in a written report issued by the review team early last year.
Despite positive reports on the education of students in the JPRA department by the review team, which is a five-member board of professors and professionals from across the country, the department was issued the provisional accreditation due to what the review board called “several weaknesses” in the area of advising.
In a written statement by the review board, they cited that voluntary advising sessions resulted in lack of accountability for the advising department. Students were not fulfilling prerequisites because they were allowed to pick classes on their own and did not seek guidance concerning prerequisites.
OWLnet registration and the DARS report were cited as University-wide problems. OWLnet allows students to register for classes without any guidance or supervision and may result in delayed graduation.
The review board said the DARS report, which is a list of a student’s academic history and a checklist of University requirements, are “confusing to faculty and students alike.”
Professor Karen Turner, chair of the JPRA department, agrees with the council on this issue.
Turner gave an example of a student who was ready to graduate, and while filling out her forms for graduation, an advisor realized she did not take the Introduction to Mass Media class. Even though she had taken all of the upper level courses, she was not able to graduate because of this issue.
“We can not have students taking classes they have not been prepared for,” Turner said.
The review team said there was three reasons for the advising deficiencies, “the combination of the voluntary nature of the system, the lack of accountability, and inability of faculty to stay current on requirements across the curriculum.”
The report explains the major reason they recommended provisional accreditation was the extraordinary amount of administrative change taking place when they visited, but had confidence that the department was heading in the right direction.
The reviewers also pointed to a spending freeze issued by President David Adamany as a possible source for the problems because the student body was growing, but the number of faculty and advisors were not. The review team requested to speak with Adamany, but he refused.
Loss of accreditation would have hurt Temple’s JPRA department. As an accredited school, students are allowed to apply for exclusive scholarships and competitions. Also, they would lose the opportunity for an outside, disinterested, review board to analyze the department.
In a written response to the review, the department stressed its strengths, the same strengths the review pointed out, “strong instruction, mentoring by a full-time faculty and by a strong, diverse corps of adjunct faculty from the Philadelphia professional community.”
Turner said the department has been addressing the advising issue for years, but points to OWLnet and telephone registration as two obstacles.
Turner has been sending messages about advising to the JPRA listserv, a departmental message board, since March 2001. The messages instructed students to see an advisor and reminded them about the prerequisites.
The Provost’s office provided the JPRA department with a list of students who did not fulfill prerequisites; the department contacted the students and informed them about the problem.
Turner believes the mandatory advising sessions will be a major solution to the problem. Sophomores and juniors will not be able to register for classes until they see an advisor. The advisor will check the student’s academic history and will document the meeting.
Joe Foote, head of the review team, was on campus last month to look at the changes by the department. Turner said Foote was pleased with the changes and is recommending the department for full accreditation.