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Northwestern J-school allows accreditation to lapse

The prestigious journalism school at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois has deliberately allowed its accreditation to lapse, calling the accreditation process “flawed,” “superficial” and “extremely time-consuming.”

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications decided not to renew its accreditation this year after having been accredited “off and on” since 1948 and continuously since 1987.

The school’s dean, Bradley Hamm, stated, “We just don’t find that the review provides us with anything beyond what we already know today.” The dean claims that the lapse of accreditation will have “no adverse effect on academic credits or the curriculum.”

From the story:

The accrediting agency defended the review process, saying it provides quality control and serves as a stamp of approval for parents, students and prospective employers. It also can help the public vet the qualifications of journalists.

“To a public concerned about the performance of the media, accreditation offers an assurance that those entering journalism and mass communications are appropriately educated,” according to the website of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, which accredits about one-fifth of all U.S. journalism programs…

Susanne Shaw, executive director of the communications accreditation group, said Medill did not participate in the process to renew its accreditation and she has not been contacted by anyone at the Medill program since the previous dean, John Lavine, left the post in 2012.

“They have withdrawn. They effectively are no longer accredited. I am absolutely clueless as to why,” Shaw said. She declined to comment on Hamm’s criticisms of the process.

Hamm, meanwhile, shed more light on the school’s decision:

Hamm said the decision not to pursue reaccreditation partly was influenced by the agency limiting the curriculum Medill could offer and restricting the ability of students to take courses in different schools. He said Medill is creating its own review process that will start this summer and bring in outside journalism experts.

“I’m not saying we don’t want program review or accreditation. I’m saying we want a far better one,” Hamm said. “The students will be involved. Over the past year or two, I’ve talked to a number of groups about how we want better ways to manage ourselves.”

The university itself is still accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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