Students express concern over College of Media future


Patrick Li

Interim Dean of the College of Media, Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, speaks with students about their thoughts concerning the future of the college.

By Sabrina Yan , Staff Writer

As the future of the College of Media remains uncertain, the University chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists hosted College of Media Interim Dean Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko for an open forum Monday night.

The goal of this conversation was to provide students in the College of Media an opportunity to express their opinions and concerns about the college and its future.

“Students’ inputs are very important because we are the ones that are actually in these classes and are the ones getting these degrees,” said Shani Benezra, communications director of SPJ.

Students from across the majors within the college, which include advertising, media and cinema studies, journalism and agricultural communications, participated in the conversation, which was meant to be more on the casual side.

“He wanted it to be very informal. This is why we did it in a classroom,” Benezra said. “It wasn’t so much like a lecture with him, it was like an actual discussion, which I am glad that students are asking questions. ”

Before the Q&A, Chodzko-Zajko gave a brief statement on the current situation of the college, which mostly remained the same as the beginning of the semester.

“We are talking to all the faculty, all the staff within the college, and asking them to imagine what needs to happen in order for the programs and the college to be as successful as they could be,” Chodzko-Zajko said.

Among the questions asked during the conversation, most of them highlighted students’ deep concern about the college’s future and whether it would dissolve.

According to Chodzko-Zajko, one of three outcomes would likely take place. The first one is nothing would change except that the college would have a new dean. The second possibility would be to keep the units together and consider expanding the college by adding more units. The third outcome would be taking apart the departments and scattering them all around the campus, which a lot of students within the college would not expect to happen.

When asked about the slight changes made in the past and the future of the college, Chodzko-Zajko mentioned that the major related to media is undergoing a period of revolution all over the world.

Another factor that will play an important role in deciding the college’s future is state of Illinois’ financial situation.

“Twenty years ago, probably about 30 percent of the budget of the University came from the state’s government,” Chodzko-Zajko said. “Over that time period, that has been reduced to 8 percent and (the state) hasn’t paid anything in two years.”

Due to the state’s decreasing support for higher education, the University and each college has had to be more self-sustained and generate the revenue needed in order to function. However, not all of the colleges have the same financial windfall; he said the College of Media doesn’t bring in anywhere near as much funding as the College of Engineering. 

Chodzko-Zajko also encouraged students to actively talk to department heads about their concerns and opinions. Benezra plans on hosting similar events in the future to ensure that that happens.

“I’m going to follow up and schedule another, more of a panel between the three department heads,” Benezra said. “And have the students share exactly what they share now and get a little more concrete answers because those department heads are the ones submitting those white papers and telling the dean what they want to see.”

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