From the Chair

Richard Campbell

As we wrap up the crazy year across all media that was 2017, I want to highlight a major MJF accomplishment and a major initiative. We just went through our first formal program review as the new Department of Media, Journalism & Film. After studying our 20-page report (and 117 pages of supporting appendices), in late October a team of three internal reviewers and two external experts, appointed by our dean, evaluated our performance over our first four years as MJF.

In our report, the following vision guides us: to become a distinctive regional and national model for undergraduate media studies housed, not in a professional school, but in a liberal arts college. Here’s an overview of our major achievements from our “executive summary”:

In 2017, MJF counted nearly 1,200 majors, the most of any College of Arts & Science (CAS) department. This spring MJF graduated more than 300 majors, about 25 percent of CAS’s 1,200+ B.A. graduates. We offer more online courses, study away and abroad workshops, summer and winter term courses, and internships than any other department in CAS. We also require our students to double major (outside MJF), directing them to other disciplines in CAS and other units.

At the end of that summary, our report concludes: “MJF has had many accomplishments in four short years. Still, we need to stay focused on what we do best and continue to resist the “silo” culture that afflicts many sectors of academia. We have achieved our successes in CAS because our faculty and staff do their part to contribute to Miami’s high national ranking (#2 behind Princeton in 2016) for commitment to undergraduate teaching.”

Although we still have a lot of work to do to realize our vision, here are highlights from the program review team:

The department has many successes to be proud of across their unit, including high and effective engagement with Alumni, stellar study away and abroad programs, high enrollment, successful recruitment of high quality faculty (which adds a strong potential for growing research/scholarship of department), and a rich array of coursework and majors…

  • despite the fact that these different majors and faculty were housed in a variety of departmental homes quite recently, the integration of them into a single unit has been remarkably successful;
  • they have maintained a clear focus on “media” --from film, TV, radio and recorded music to digital and social media--across all of the majors, they cover the range of contemporary media well;
  • they integrate practice and studies consistently across majors;
  • the MJF combination … could become a model for how to integrate programs in a time of financial scarcity as well as technological convergence, where divisions among media that once may have made sense (journalism, film, TV & radio) have become less logical. By integrating multiple units into a single department like MJF, Miami is a forerunner in a growing trend across the fields of media and communication studies.

Here also is an excerpt from our dean’s response to our report and reviewers’ assessment:

I have reviewed the 2017 Department of Media, Journalism and Film academic program review self-study and the final report submitted by the team. The review team noted several strengths of the department, including the rich array of majors and coursework, the successful recruitment of high quality faculty, the high and effective engagement with Alumni, which have contributed to excellent study away and abroad programs, and high enrollments. They also recognized the progress that has been made building the department from individual units … I commend you and the faculty in the Department of Media, Journalism and Film on the progress you have made in building the department and your dedication to your students. (from CAS Dean Chris Makaroff)

In other news, over the past year we have launched a major Report for Ohio (RFO) initiative. This project aims to jumpstart the careers of young reporters and journalism graduates in a “Teach for America”-type program. RFO has two parts:

Part One, in cooperation with the national Report for America organization, RFO would hire up to four recent journalism graduates to report on under-covered rural and urban communities in Southwest Ohio. We currently have lined up four partners in the initiative: The Dayton Daily News, the Cincinnati Business Courier, WYSO public radio Yellow Spring/Dayton), and WVXU public radio (Cincinnati).

Part Two: RFO is working with the Oxford area community to revitalize and expand Cox Media’s weekly Oxford Press, which has been reduced to a 4-page insert in the (Middletown-Hamilton) Journal News. It is included with advertising supplements in the newspaper’s Sunday edition. Freestanding copies are no longer available for purchase anywhere in Oxford.

I would like to thank once again all of our committed MJF alumni who do so much for us in support of scholarships, our workshops, and our teaching mission. As you can see from our story, you play an important role in our successes. When we recruit students these days, our alumni network has become a major selling point for our programs. We are grateful to you.

Richard Campbell

Major fundraising for the Report for Ohio projects will start in 2018.

This is a significant opportunity for MJF and its majors, and we hope you might consider supporting it. We ideally would like to raise $500,000 to support a 2-year pilot. We have already raised $15,000 toward this goal. To contribute, you can send a donation to the Miami University Foundation and designate Report for Ohio Fund on your check.