College’s name change important

By Ronald Yates

After reading your editorial Tuesday regarding the proposed name change for the College of Communications, I wondered if the writer was talking about this campus or one that resides in a parallel universe.

There is no “name calling” or “dueling” or bickering regarding this issue. And certainly the “fate of the world” does not hang in the balance, as the editorial suggested.

One of the things we teach in our College and in the Department of Journalism is to go to a primary source before you start writing. It’s called “reporting.”

In this case there doesn’t seem to have been much substantive reporting on this issue by the person who wrote this editorial.

Had this individual bothered to call me or anybody else in the administration of the College of Communications, he or she would have learned that the name put forward in the proposal by our College raised some concerns from other units on campus. This is a legitimate part of the process that is followed anytime a campus unit changes its name.

The proposal has already gone to the Educational Policy Committee of the Faculty Senate, where it was approved Monday. It now goes to the larger Senate body for further discussion.

There is nothing out of the ordinary about this. The Senate is doing the job it was set up to do. Discussions about our new name will continue – and that is what should happen.

You also say that the Department of Speech Communications “took” our name from us. That is not exactly accurate. Discussions about Speech Communications changing its name have been ongoing for several years. It made a strong case for doing so – one that I fully understand and support.

After much discussion the College of Communications saw this as an opportunity to better define ourselves and our teaching and research missions.

In seeking a new name we polled more than 2,500 alumni and some 100 faculty and staff. The majority of those polled felt that the name: “College of Media Arts and Sciences” best described our focus at a time when media and their many delivery platforms are changing faster than at any time in history and when the media are no longer simply “mass,” but personal and interactive in ways we could never have imagined even 10 years ago.

Thus, changing our name is not the “most meaningless of meaningless issues” as the editorial said. It is important that our name reflect our mission and that it point ahead to the future.

Ronald E. Yates

Dean, College of Communications