The Daily Lobo reported on Jan. 24 that the University of New Mexico Communication & Journalism Department was debating becoming reaccredited by the Accreditation Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC), citing a $30,000 price tag as the primary reason for possibly not going through the process.
However, the exact cost of the process is more undefined because there are at least two discrepancies between ACEJMC and department heads regarding exact costs of the accreditation and what is required for it.
In an interview with the Daily Lobo, C&J Department Chair David Weiss explained that the $30,000 figure was based off the total costs for the 2013-14 accreditation process.
“All I can say is that’s what we spent last time,” Weiss said.
Of the total cost, $20,000 were spent on stipends for faculty members who spent time working on a self study report, which is required before the ACEJMC performs a site visit. Weiss, who was working for UNM during the last visit, explained that each faculty member received around $2,000 for assembling the reports.
Weiss did say, though, that — in the event of another accreditation process — he is unlikely to pay out stipends to faculty members. This is because departmental revenues are significantly less than they were six years ago, with Weiss pointing to the loss of fees from online courses, which now go the College of Arts and Sciences instead of to the department, as an example.
Weiss said, even without stipends added to the total cost, the department could not afford the accreditation process without University support.
“Even if it’s $15,000, we still can’t afford it,” he said.
Another cost was for the Chair and Associate Chair of the Department to travel to Chicago twice in order to meet with council members of the ACEJMC. Weiss said the second time is to defend the results of the site visit before the council, which he said can last anywhere between five to 10 minutes. In 2013-14, these trips cost the department nearly $4,000.
Laura Castañeda, professor of practice at the University of Southern California, confirmed that these visits are required and chairs often present only for a short time.
“It’s kind of pro forma,” Castañeda said, adding that “it’s part of the whole politics of (ACEJMC).”
Candace Oswalt, project coordinator for ACEJMC, said the meetings in Chicago are mandatory for department heads to go to, but later recanted her statement in an email saying that information “was incorrect. Meetings are never mandatory.”
A yearly dues cost of $2,000 was also included in the cost totals, even though the department pays the dues to the ACEJMC every year and it is not charged solely for the reaccreditation process.
Other costs associated with the process included $500 for copies and $800 for miscellaneous supplies.
Weiss reiterated that no decision regarding accreditation will be made until he speaks to interim-Provost Richard Wood and President Garnett Stokes to see if he can secure funding for the process.
Not being accredited has no direct affect on the worth of students’ degrees like other programs, such as nursing and engineering — but Weiss did say that it could have other effects, like larger class sizes.
Kyle Land is the editor in chief for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kyleoftheland.