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Department of Journalism and Mass Communication receives ACEJMC accreditation

Rocky Dailey teaches students
Assistant professor Rocky Dailey speaks to students in Yeager Hall.

The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications re-accredited the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at South Dakota State University on April 27.

In two separate unanimous votes, the Council re-accredited the undergraduate programs in advertising, journalism and public relations and the online Master in Mass Communication (M.M.C.). 

ACEJMC accredits 118 schools in the United States and outside the country and made decisions on 20 schools this spring. 

The department has been continuously accredited since 1948, one of 36 schools accredited that first year of national journalism accreditation. This six-year approval will carry through 76 years of accreditation. 

In 2014, the M.M.C. program was the first fully online professional master’s degree program to receive ACEJMC accreditation and remains the only one of its kind.

Three university educators (including two deans) and a public relations professional reviewed the department’s extensive self-study and visited the campus for three days in February. Next, an accrediting committee acted on the team’s report in March, followed by the full Accrediting Council in late April. 

The site visit team found the department in compliance on all nine standards: mission, governance and administration; curriculum and instruction; diversity and inclusiveness; faculty; scholarship, research, creative and professional activity; student services; resources, facilities and equipment; professional and public service; and assessment.

In their report, the site team noted the following strengths of the undergraduate programs: historically stable and respected leadership, collegial and collaborative community, highly accessible and engaged faculty, emphasis on innovation, significant increase in research productivity, and commitment to diversity in student recruitment, curriculum and service outreach.

Strengths of the online master’s degree were talented and qualified faculty and dedicated program administrators, effective productivity in scholarship and creative activity, effective and innovative use of distance education, and engaged and enthusiastic students who appreciate the professional orientation and flexibility of the program.  

“Continuous accreditation since 1948 is a remarkable record,” said Lyle Olson, interim department head and recently named founding director of SDSU’s new School of Communication and Journalism. “It speaks highly of the long-standing, sustained quality of departmental leadership, university support, alumni involvement and, of course, the students who select our programs and the faculty who teach them.” 

The site team reported that students feel prepared for internships and jobs, that hands-on work is “embedded in the curriculum and helps build their portfolios” and that “professional ethics is ‘very big in this department.” 

Undergraduate students “enthusiastically report that the ‘department really focuses’ on education related to multiculturalism. They see Yeager Hall as a ‘socially conscious, socially aware’ place on campus.” 

“We are especially pleased at being found in compliance on the assessment and diversity standards, the two most common stumbling blocks for programs around the nation,” Olson said. 

The site team also reported that employers in the region “applaud the multiplatform curriculum” and that students have “solid multimedia storytelling skills, can use social media professionally and can multitask.” 

Regarding the online master’s degree, the site team wrote that students “praised the program’s collaborative, interactive pedagogy. ‘I expected to feel like a number, but I never did,’ said one student.”

On July 1, the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Department of Communication Studies will become the School of Communication and Journalism.