Journalism, Theatre, Film merger falls through

David Spindler / Sun Star

The film, journalism and theater department merger being considered by the UAF College of Liberal Arts as a cost-cutting measure will not come to fruition after the film and theater programs could not find compromise with the journalism degree path.  Since the spring semester of 2015, the budget gap has affected 46 academic programs at the university, which is trying to cut $3 million from various courses of study.

The Department of Journalism was originally planned to be merged with the theatre and film programs, but this was eventually ruled out. The program's future is uncertain, but one thing is clear: it will stay around in some form. - Zayn Roohi / Photo Editor

The Department of Journalism was originally planned to be merged with the theatre and film programs, but this was eventually ruled out. The program’s future is uncertain, but one thing is clear: it will stay around in some form. – Zayn Roohi / Photo Editor

“Unfortunately film and theatre couldn’t find a common ground with journalism, which is why the merger couldn’t take effect,” Rob Prince, Department Chair of the Journalism Dept. said.

Carrie Baker, chair of the theatre department, Maya Salganek, director of the film department, and Prince had met several times over the course of the summer with other faculty and decided the decision was out of the question.

“As of this summer there are no changes yet but we’re looking at other possibilities,” Todd Sherman, dean of the CLA said. “Whatever decision we make should function and be a benefit to our students.”

Theatre and film are looking into coming up with their own merger, possibly including the Art department.

“Film & Theatre could merge well with the Art Department, since both are under the category of visual arts, and not storytelling where facts and truth come into place,” said JR Ancheta, an adjunct professor teaching French as well as an undergrad student finishing a degree in photojournalism. “I was very concerned about journalism merging with Film and Theatre,” Ancheta said.  “I would have seen benefits of combining it with the UAF Film Program, but not the Theatre Department because the two are complete opposites.”

Meanwhile, the Journalism Department leadership is looking at the possibility of merging with the Communications Department.

“Communication is the second closest to our field of study, film being our first,” Prince said. In many schools, journalism and communications programs function well in a combined system.  

All three department chairs agree that the College of Liberal Arts has too many programs, and it is necessary for some form of merge to take place in order to fight the UAF budget deficit.  Since there has not yet been another meeting to discuss more on the topic of the CLA merger, there’s no telling yet if those at the Communications Department are interested in merging with journalism.

“If we do merge with the Communications Department, a benefit I see coming from that is we can consolidate our programs, and maybe consolidate administrative resources and be able to offer each other help in classes combined with communications,” Prince said.

Aside from this change of plans with merging Journalism to the Film & Theatre Departments, Ancheta had no idea about the possibility of Journalism wanting to merge with the Communications Department. “I had not heard of this possible new plan yet but it would make sense to merge Journalism with Communications because the two are alike; both departments use communication in various forms of media.”

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