Florida A&M’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication is celebrating 40 years of excellence and education this year. Still, a persistent faculty shortage delays some students’ graduation dates and raises concerns about the state of the program.
SJGC at one time had more than 20 full-time faculty members, so things weren’t always like this. Yet the number of full-time faculty has been on the decline. There were 12 full-time journalism division faculty in the spring, and only 8 at the start of this semester.
This shortage ultimately affects the number of courses the school can offer students, especially upperclassmen, forcing them to compete for courses that determine whether they graduate this semester or must stay an extra semester for one class.
“With the shortage of professors, it’s been a difficult time for me trying to get into classes that I do need to graduate and get certain prerequisites for certain classes. It was just a difficult process,” said Taylor Evans, a fourth-year broadcast journal major.
William Jiles, the interim division director for SJGC’s journalism and public relations majors, said that when a faculty member leaves without being replaced, the university will step in to “shift the faculty lines.” This is a process that may convert a part-time faculty member into a full-time position. However, this has not been the case in recent years.
Without assistance from the university, SJGC administrators cannot fill five or six open faculty positions.
Jiles, said he is looking to fill two immediate positions with full-time faculty.
One is an in-person broadcast instructor position, and the other is a tenure-track position responsible for teaching one of the newly introduced courses, visual storytelling, and other skill courses.
Jiles hired two part-time faculty members — called adjuncts — this fall.
“We’ve reached out and hired adjunct professors who are part-timers, so we can fill our schedule to meet our students’ needs. That’s not ideal, but it is helping us for now so we can hire full-time faculty,” Jiles said.
Upperclassmen are encouraged to maintain close contact with their academic advisers, who may be able to provide alternative courses at other institutions if a course is full.
Some students claim that, like the faculty shortage, the relationship between advisers and students needs to be improved. Evans claimed that her classmates frequently seek advice from one another in situations like this.
“Students have to go to another student for help rather than going to their adviser,” she said.