J-School sets plan forward based on 2019 external review

Low number of core faculty and limited resources remain issues. Lee Lim

Where does the J-School go from here?

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Last month, the Carillon reported on the University of Regina’s School of Journalism (J-School) suspending admissions for the 2023-2024 school year. The announcement came shortly after the Carillon sent a letter to certain faculty detailing several anonymous allegations of a toxic culture in the J-School. However, Department Head of the Journalism School Dr. Gennadiy Chernov told the Carillon that “the reason for the suspension is based on academic grounds.”

Further commenting on why the J-School suspended admissions, Dr. Chernov said “the Faculty of Arts and the School of Journalism initiated this suspension in order to free-up time and resources to renew and redevelop the program. […] Sustaining the program in its current form has been very difficult because our core faculty staffing has been reduced to 2.”

However, according to a previous correspondence with Shannon Dea, Dean of Arts, part of the purpose of the J-School closure is to “provide an opportunity to evaluate the School’s climate in order to ensure that the J-School is a safe and supportive place to learn and to work.” Chernov’s comments did not mention these reasons for the closure.

The question remains, where does the J-School go from here?

As part of a way to guide faculties at the university, external academic unit reviews are conducted regularly. These unit reviews use external reviewers, who are staff from other universities, in order to provide an outside and unbiased view on operations at the University of Regina. In 2019, the external review identified 5 key challenges and made 9 recommendations for how the J-School should grow in the future.

Dr. Philip Carrier, Dean of History and the internal reviewer on the external unit review, described the unit review process as “the report that the reviewers ultimately produce, it becomes an official document of the University. So it’s available. It’s reviewed, I think right up to the level of the Board of Governors, or at least it is made available to the Board of Governors. It becomes a public document. […] The department has to, within a certain time frame, write a response.”

The low number of core faculty and limited resources which Dr. Chernov mentioned in his statement were issues hinted at in 2019 in the key challenge, “falling enrollments and rising costs.” The small size of the faculty is also noted throughout, although the external reviewers lauded the faculty for operating efficiently despite the small size. In the 2022-2023 budget, the J-School had operating expenditures at a little over $737,000. For comparison, the English department was operating at a little over $1.7 million, while Philosophy and Classics operated at about $653,000. Outside the Faculty of Arts, departments such as Nursing operate with expenditures over $9 million.

In recent years, the J-School has made some changes to increase enrollment. Most notably, in response to the 2019 academic unit review, a Journalism 100 course was created to draw in students from other faculties. There are hints that the J-School may expand on this strategy after the suspension with Dr. Chernov saying via email “we have many ideas for higher enrollment 100 and 200 level options that will act as feeders for increased J-School enrollments.”

Dr. Philip Carrier, talking about the difficulties of running a small department, told the Carillon “small programs, don’t have a lot of options […] so there’s various ways that you could approach that, but trying to find ways of ensuring firstly that you’re not duplicating anything that you’re doing with other units, but also finding ways of collaborating, and, to a certain extent, reinventing or reimagining courses or programs in such a way that you have the benefit of other disciplines, other students, other instructors. I think that’s a very positive thing.”

In an email to the Carillon, Dr. Chernov said “the work on the School’s redesign is at its early stages,” though he went on to detail that they have some suggestions to offer: a communication’s stream, larger classes, and enrolling pre-Journalism students in the J-School in their first year.


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