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Take a closer look: An open letter to the Board of Trustees

Number of students in each program as of 2014.
Number of students in each program as of 2014.

There were puppies on campus Tuesday afternoon during the Florida Gulf Coast University’s quarterly Board of Trustees meeting, yet, many journalism students chose to go to a meeting about meetings instead.

On Tuesday, April 21, the Board of Trustees met to review programs that they deem low performing as far as the number of degrees that are handed out every year.

According to the BOT’s criteria, a program must give out fewer than 30 bachelor’s degrees, 20 masters, and 10 doctorates all within five years to be considered for review.

For starters, the program is only four years old.

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In a little over a week, the journalism program will have graduated 29 students. As of this spring, the program had 122 majors — 128 if you count double majors.

Last year, there were 117 majors, which for some reason, is what the BOT is basing its analysis on.

So, you can see how it’s a little ridiculous that the program is even on the list because it hasn’t existed long to accurately assess. Assessing the program is kind of like taking a 7-year-old to the DMV and testing how well he can parallel-park (which no one in Florida can apparently do by the way).

Not only is the program not even old enough to be evaluated, it’s also been successful in it’s short life.

So in those four years, the program has pumped out some incredible journalists that can attest to just how successful the program has been.

Alex Pena graduated in 2011. He’s currently a digital journalist for CBS in New York City. Before that, he was a journalist and photographer for the Stars and Stripes, covering Kabul, Afghanistan and Kaiserslautern, Germany. Journalism student.

Robbie Spencer graduated in 2011. Today, he is the executive editor and co-founder of the Naples Herald, an online news outlet that launched in Southwest Florida this year. Journalism student.

Kalhan Rosenblatt, a former Eagle News editor-in-chief, will graduate next week. Rosenblatt was a Society of Professional Journalists Region 3 Mark of Excellence finalist and spearheaded a self-funded documentary about LGBT rights in Belize. Journalism student.

Current student Kailah Casillas is a freelancer to the New York Post. Journalism student.

There are many, many other students who work (and thrive) in local media outlets and across the world.

When you take a look at the successes of current journalism students and alumni, it’s safe to say the program is growing and deserves a fair look before throwing it on the chopping block.

Having the journalism program on a list of programs to review just seems like something that was scribbled in at the bottom of the list of programs to review just to hit a quota.

Journalism shouldn’t have even been on the list to begin with, much less should it be cut.

The program is nothing short of impressive for its short life and is making an impact on the community.

Discontinuing the journalism program would not only be a disservice to the FGCU community and the students and professors who built it, but to the whole journalism community.

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