Permanent dean picked for UI college

URBANA – A strong new emphasis on media studies and a permanent dean are among the results of a yearlong evaluation of the University of Illinois College of Communications.

The UI announced Tuesday that Interim Dean Ronald Yates will be appointed the permanent dean of the college, pending the UI Board of Trustees' approval.

"The college is not only here as it was before, it's going to be bigger," Yates said.

Among the changes will be the development of a broad media studies major that is both available to more students and that draws on faculty strengths outside the college.

The college is also being asked to broaden student academic experiences at the WILL television and radio stations, improve advising systems for pre-journalism students, step up development efforts and reconfigure courses, faculty and student experiences within the Institute for Communications Research.

The changes are in response to a yearlong evaluation of the college by separate committees.

The college had been criticized for communication and budgetary problems. Recommendations had been offered to disband the college, and particularly the advertising department, and create a separate school of journalism with an advertising specialty.

Steve Helle, a journalism professor, has recently been named interim head of the advertising department, with a permanent head to be named perhaps within two years.

Provost Richard Herman said in a letter to the dean last month that "the leadership of the college over this academic year has been characterized by forthrightness, honesty and a singular willingness to examine past and present practices. The college has engaged in a difficult self-examination, one which I believe will serve it and the campus well."

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