A group of students in the Department of Mass Communication recently called for a meeting with the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences to discuss developing concerns about recent changes within the department.
The meeting, set for Sept. 5 at 10 a.m., comes after a large turnover in faculty, which left the department scrambling to find enough professors to fill the classrooms.
A total of five professors exited the department since last year, which left many students without a teacher to lead their classes.
“I have classes where we just sit around because we don’t have a professor,” junior RTV major Stu Niemeyer said. “We have one professor who has to cover classes that aren’t even his. I don’t feel I’m getting my money’s worth of an education.”
Department chair Dr. Janet Bridges said the reason some classes were without teachers can be attributed to a last minute resignation by a professor in the department.
“I can understand how students wouldn’t understand why they don’t have a teacher,” Bridges said. “But it was only for the first two days of class. I wanted to make sure we hired qualified people and I wanted to go over their references first.”
Several of the professors who left were tenured, which students say dealt a hefty blow to the quality of the department.
“Now there’s a lack of faculty knowledge,” junior MCM major Katelyn Murphy said. “And the students are at a loss because it’s too late to transfer out.”
Yet Bridges had nothing but praise for the quality of the faculty within the department and remained optimistic about hiring options for the future.
“We’ve got good people. We don’t want the people no one wants,” she said. “We hire people that other people want.”
The exodus of professors out of the department occurred during a time when many changes are being made as the department seeks accreditation.
90.5 The Kat, the Sam Houston State University radio station, now broadcasts mostly automated programming while Cable 7 imports much of its material from Annenberg. In the past, both programs were run almost completely by students, giving them hands-on experience and portfolio material much earlier than at other colleges in the state. In the Radio/Television concentration, separate labs are no longer used and have been integrated into the lecture portion of class.
“We’re moving up as we work to gain accreditation,” Bridges said. “That’s why our curriculum has changed. Under an accredited program, we’ll have a capstone course designed to help students put together their portfolio. Our program will gain recognition outside of the Huntsville community.”
Students also met early last week to discuss involving alumni in their concerns. Several students hoped the alumni would help them in making their voices heard to President Gaertner.
While students see the loss of faculty as detrimental to the department, Bridges views it as a sign of the quality of the people within the school.
“I think it speaks well of the people we have, when they are able to move up to bigger schools and higher positions,” Bridges said. “It’s all about rank in the university. I can understand their desire to leave to seek a higher position.”