Interim dean to remain at College of Media for another year

Interim dean to remain at College of Media for another year

CHAMPAIGN — An interim dean for the University of Illinois College of Media will serve an extra year while the campus hires a new provost and the college continues to address problems identified in a campus review.

Interim Provost Richard Wheeler informed college faculty this week that interim Dean Jan Slater will serve through the 2012-13 school year. Slater, former head of the Department of Advertising, was appointed in August 2010 to a two-year term.

Wheeler said he made the decision after consulting with college faculty and staff and Chancellor Phyllis Wise.

Wheeler said the chances of a successful dean's search this year could be compromised because the campus has an interim provost and because the college is still addressing organizational and financial challenges. The search for a new provost is about to begin.

The dean's search should be the responsibility of the next provost, Wheeler said Wednesday.

"This doesn't seem like the right time for a national search that I would not be confident would succeed," he said. "Our administrative practices and personnel issues have been in need of aggressive work and Jan is bringing that to the job.

"I think the college will benefit greatly from another year of Jan's leadership," he said.

The college's last permanent dean was Ron Yates, who stepped down in 2009. Professor Walt Harrington agreed to take on the interim job for a year while the college found a permanent replacement. But the campus called off the search for Yates' successor in February 2010, citing the lack of a clear favorite and the bleak financial conditions facing the university.

Around the same time the College of Media was one of four small academic units examined for possible consolidation, along with the School of Labor and Employment Relations, the School of Social Work and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. A budget review committee concluded that no significant savings could be gained from merging those units.

But it also recommended that the College of Media — with units for journalism, advertising, media and cinema studies, communications research and public broadcasting — continue discussions about possible reorganization as part of a comprehensive planning effort to secure its future.

Wheeler emphasized that there are no proposals to close the college, but he wants faculty and staff to continue to focus on improvements.

To attract "the best possible candidates" for dean, Wheeler said, he would advise the next provost to consider several factors in timing the search — including development of a "clear mission" and core curriculum for the college that unite its varied units, the financial stability of the college and progress toward eliminating a large deficit.

Other factors:

— The upcoming accreditation review in fall 2012.

— A doctoral program that is "sustainable financially" and available college-wide.

— An appropriate balance of "instructional responsibilities and revenues."

— A balanced teaching load for tenure-track and adjunct faculty and teaching assistants.

— Capacity to build the advertising faculty to reflect "extensive teaching responsibilities."

— Curriculum development in the journalism department.

— Capacity to develop a "robust undergraduate curriculum" in media and cinema studies.

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