This semester, local media professionals replaced relinquished professors of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools made a recommendation the week of March 29 not to renew the contracts of any professors within SJGC who did not have a master’s degree.
In an April interview SJGC Dean James Hawkins said, “We have recommendations from the SACS team, and they have identified 10 people whose credentials didn’t meet the requirements: four full-time professors and six adjuncts.”
Some faculty members still employed with the school are just working in different capacities outside of the classroom.
Cynthia Hughes- Harris, FAMU provost and vice president for academic affairs, said SACS officials decided that although some teachers had experience working in their prospective fields they should still have a master’s degree to be teaching.
“To fill the gaps, we did realign responsibilities, so that faculty (who) are credentialed according to SACS standards are indeed teaching,” Hughes- Harris said.
Doug Blackburn, the higher education editor at the Tallahassee Democrat, now adds teaching to his plate of duties. Blackburn said he sees this as an opportunity to teach the students while increasing his own knowledge.
“The broad focus of the course is use of the internet with a bend toward investigative reporting,” Blackburn said. “I am looking forward to learning with the students as we filter through the textbook.”
Dorothy Bland, SJGC director of journalism, said that the new professors have a vast amount of knowledge from their many experiences and day jobs. Many of the new faculty members are from local media outlets such as the Tallahassee Democrat, WCTV and WFSU.
Bland said many of the new faces seen in the SJGC are not new to the community, along with Blackburn. According to Bland, Jennifer Portman and Gerald Grow came back as adjunct professors. Margie Menzel, Dia Kukendall, Chendra Clark, Brandan Craft, Laura Downey, Leonard Holton and Josphe Roache all join the ranks as professors at FAMU.
Some of the many individuals that came back to help out at the school are even Rattlers.
“Laura Downy, who graduated from FAMU, since has gone to New York and Las Vegas,” Bland said. “She is now back to help grow the next wave of talent.”
Downy and Holton both received their master’s degrees from the SJGC’s division of journalism.
Not all newly hired faculty members were because of the SACS findings, however.
“One full-time faculty member was hired, but there is no relationship between the full time faculty and SACS visiting,” Hughes- Harris said. “The hiring process just took longer.”
“The new faculty members bring a variety and a wealth of experience with them,” said Bland.