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Sunday, July 23, 2006

HU to appeal journalism accreditation decision

An accrediting council in June decided the school was out of compliance in two of its nine standards.

HAMPTON -- Officials from Hampton University will be in Chicago on Tuesday to appeal the findings of a group that did not fully accredit the journalism school earlier this year.

Tony Brown, dean of the school, said the school was not treated fairly because the four-person team that visited HU in January failed to follow its own rules when examining the school and then leaked confidential information about its findings to the media.

Last month, HU's Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Mass Communications told the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications that it planned to challenge the provisional accreditation it received in May. The council found the school out of compliance on two of its nine standards, but Brown said the journalism school meets all of them.

Receiving accreditation from the council adds prestige to the school.

Brown did not speak publicly about the council's decision until this week.

He is miffed that one member of the accreditation team spoke to a reporter about the team's findings before the report became official.

Brown said leaking that information, which he called unprofessional, calls into question the professionalism of the team and its findings.

"You can't completely dismiss it," Brown said of the leak, "because it clouds the integrity of the process."

Brown also disagrees with a finding that HU did not make clear to faculty the process by which he was hired days after a former journalism school dean abruptly resigned in 2004.

HU officials said the process is clear and was explained to the site team.

The team also asserted there is inadequate scholarship among the school's faculty. Brown said the team threw out the work of the previous faculty members over the past six years, but he is not sure why.

He said the chair of the site team told the school it did not have enough faculty members with Ph.D.s. He called that "a violation of their own rules" because the team's report states it cannot tell a university how to make up its faculty.

An independent, three-person board will review HU's appeal, but the accrediting council will make the final decision.

It is has been at least six years since a university appealed the council's decision, said Susanne Shaw, its executive director.

Brown said it would be easy for the school to "just shut up and fix them," which would get it fully accredited in two years.

"But we're going through with this," he said, "because we were not treated fair."


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