School still stands

After the abrupt departure last month of Dean Robert Ruggles of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, many were left wondering what direction the school would head in next.

Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Larry Robinson said a committee is going to be developed to find a permanent dean for the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication.

“Within the next week, there will be a draft of a search committee for a permanent dean and some students in the Student Government Association will be asked to be a part of the search committee,” Robinson said.

According to Robinson, it will take a minimum of at least three months to find a permanent dean.

“The School of Journalism and Graphic Communication is our first priority and I feel that it is in excellent hands with [James] Hawkins as the interim dean,” Robinson said. “Until we find a permanent dean, Interim Dean Hawkins will be able to hold the school in good standing.”

Hawkins, formerly the associate dean of the school and chair of the journalism division, wants to assure students that he will continue to lead the department in the right direction.

“I will make sure our students have the highest quality of education, are marketable in their field and successful in winning journalism awards,” Hawkins said.

Although Hawkins is sure the school of journalism is headed in the right direction, some of the journalism students feel otherwise.

“I think the department is up in the air right now because we’ve been going through different changes,” said Lisa McIntosh, 19, a junior public relations student from Freeport, Grand Bahamas. “Although we are going through so many changes, I do feel that Dr. Hawkins should be able to get us back on the right track.”

Even with Hawkins’ assurance, there are still many obstacles facing the school. Two open faculty positions have not filled and completing and equipping the new journalism building in time for fall is still in doubt.

Hawkins said he was not able to discuss at this time his plans to raise the money for the completion of the building or the needed equipment

According to Hawkins, the equipment needed in the new building will provide the journalism students with the convergence climate to merge the newspaper, radio and television programs into one element.

Construction of the building was slowed over the summer because of excessive rain in the area. Hawkins said that may have hindered the ability of the school to fully utilize its new building by the projected move-in date.

“The scheduled date for the department to move in the new building was fall 2004,” Hawkins said. “By the way it looks today, the date for the department to fully move in the new building will be spring 2005.”

When asked if he was thinking about applying for the position as permanent dean, Hawkins said he is definitely considering it but he will continue to teach his classes while he is interim dean.

“I enjoy teaching my classes and I’m not giving them up this semester,” Hawkins said. “Maybe next semester I’ll cut back on how many classes I teach.”