Monday, June 25, 2007

This issue have been going on at Medill for over 2 years. Since 1989 I have worked for 7 Deans (from the man who hired me, through 4 full-time deans and two temporary deans. My argument is with the Medill Journalism faculty who need to reform their field dramatically. The outside review and two internal reviews in 2005-2006 "bashed" the Medill Journalism program (not the PR, Advertising, Direct Database (IMC) program). Now, as the faculty of NU want to assert themselves as part of faculty governance at NU (the full-time faculty have been backseat drivers for years at NU) we find the Medill School in the middle of being a case study. More to come.

NU faculty rips Medill
by Michael Miner on June 22nd - 1:22 p.m.

The faculty senate at Northwestern University has formally accused NU's administration of abolishing democracy at the Medill School of Journalism. A resolution passed unanimously June 6 by the General Faculty Committee says it found NU's "suspension of faculty governance at [Medill] to be unacceptable and in violation of the University's Statutes." The resolution predicts "curricular changes that are ill considered . . . the demoralization and enmity of the faculty . . . damage to the national reputation of the School . . . the loss of and the inability to hire faculty who believe that the faculty's role in governance is important for students, faculty and the public."

The backdrop to this blunt resolution is a series of internal and external audits in recent years that judged Medill--which enjoys seeing itself as a journalism school without equal--as an academic basket case. President Henry Bienen and provost Lawrence Dumas stepped in. Skipping the usual faculty search committee they named John Lavine (pictured) the next dean in late 2005, and in early 2006 they booted aside the incumbent, who had months to go on his contract. Lavine was already on site: he was the founding director of NU's Media Management Center, a fee-charging profit center housed in the journalism school.

An article on Lavine in the fall 2006 issue of the university alumni magazine said he'd been given "free rein to transform the school." It explained that Bienen and Dumas "suspended formal faculty oversight at Medill for the 3 1/2-year transition period in which Lavine will shepherd the integration and revamping of the [Integrated Marketing Communications] and journalism programs and faculty." IMC and journalism are Medill's two basic divisions.

The resolution continues, "If the Administration in the future concludes that an unacceptable academic situation warrants the temporary suspension of the normal role of the faculty 'to prescribe and define the course of study' [a quote from NU's statutes], such suspension should be only for a set, limited period and only after formal approval by the Board of Trustees made after the consideration of the views of all concerned faculty."

Medill professors I've spoken with say a three-and-a-half-year suspension is hardly "temporary." And it's news to them if the Board of Trustees had any say in the matter, let alone heard from "concerned faculty." The GFC resolution was signed by the committee chair, law professor John Elson, and submitted to Bienen and Dumas. They apparently haven't responded. Elson wouldn't comment, but Lavine did. He said the GFC didn't talk to him before it acted, and its members obviously don't know what he knows.

And what's that? "We've had more faculty involvement in the last 18 months than in the decade before that. We have 12 major committees reaching across the entire faculty." True enough about the dozen committees. But unhappy professors say Lavine just pays lip service to them. A new curriculum is going to be introduced over the next four years, and although professors have been consulted individually, one told me, "We don't vote on anything. We have no vote. Anybody who dissents is labeled 'antichange.'" Another outsider heads up the new curriculum project--Mary Nesbitt, who'd been director of the women-in-newspaper-management project at the Media Management Center until Lavine brought her over.

Lavine wasn't blindsided by the resolution. Clarke Caywood, who teaches PR and marketing for the IMC side of Medill, was on the GFC when the resolution was proposed, though not when it was voted on (he says he'd have voted "aye"). He says, "I told Lavine a few months ago--truth to power--'You should know it's coming.' His reaction was, 'I think I'm doing the right thing.' I don't disagree with him, but I think his way of doing it leaves something to be desired." That said, Caywood believes that the Medill faculty has long had a "passive-aggressive" relationship with the administration, with unwillingness to get involved running a close race with willingness to take offense.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Business Schools vs. Schools of Communications

On Schools of Communications and Journalism-Mass Communications:

Recent visits to the University of Southern California, Southern Methodist University and Boston University to speak with colleagues and their students left me with some impressions. One, the quality of communications school students at these prestigious institutions is impressive. They seem more aware of the significance of communications as an important factor in the success or failure of public and private organizations. This awareness is something that the business schools and their faculty have not recognized in the 30 year rise of their programs. From my experience as a student and faculty member in business, what the business schools at the graduate and undergraduate level have been able to do is to create a community of education and skill study that is highly cooperative and productive within the school. One of the reasons for the academic and professional success of the business schools is the degree of community that the faculty in accounting, human resource management, marketing, finance and production have achieved. They work well together and have built a series of degrees that fit the needs of society and individuals. On the other hand, it is my experience in schools of journalism and mass communications that the faculty, students and administration have not found a formula of cooperation and community. As a highly visible school in most leading universities the leaders of schools of communications, journalism and mass communication must seek to build a more unified educational opportunity for students and faculty to demonstrate the critical value of communications as a social, economic, political and environmental field of knowledge and practice. More to come.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

For nearly 20 years we have offered at Northwestern University, summer internships for the graduate students in public relations, advertising, promotions and direct database marketing. Initially the fields were coordinated, merged and redefined to create a newer approach to marketing and communications called "integrated marketing communications" See Students from our 15 month (five quarter) graduate program have left campus this week (some next) for their 11 week summer posts at corporations all over the U.S. Companies outside of the Chicago area pay approximately $16,000. for the work of the student. The payment cover their tuition and some living and travel expense. NU and the Medill school have long had a reputation for encouraging their students and faculty to have "impact" on society, business and other organizations. I would like to tell you more about the internships to understand some of the advanced work graduate students in PR and IMC are doing.

Friday, June 8, 2007

PR and Marketing Communications

Richard Edelman and his brother John produced with PRWeek a hit on the role of newer media The first annual conference was balanced between bloggers-journalists and journalist-bloggers plus PR professionals. The program included a few academics on the panels offering cogent definitions (one of the roles of professors). In this gathering "those who do" vs. "those who teach"seemed to have more to contribute. It may be that the professors on the panels and those in the audience with some encouragement from the Web 2.0 industry may have more substantive research to contribute next year. A number of the professionals had "experiments" (their term for smaller tests of new ideas and processes), but the experiments did not necessarily follow the discipline of social science to give listeners confidence in the observations.

At the Medill School of Journalism and Integrated Marketing Communications (Northwestern University), a class with our graduate students produced an open source chapter with their professor and Anders Gronstedt Group on viral marketing and communications. The students smartly attached a number of examples including blogs, podcasts, Second City events and Youtube efforts to illustrate their ideas.
Links for selected IMC Communications Class projects: x

Your thoughts? More to come to link to the open source chapter.

More to come.