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UNT Insider | May 2009 Issue | School of Journalism to open Sept. 1

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Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism to open Sept. 1

From a UNT News Service press release

2008 Mayborn conference

More than 1,200 students are expected to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in news and strategic communications at the new Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism when it opens Sept. 1.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board granted formal creation of the Mayborn School earlier this month upon recommendation from the UNT System Board of Regents.

The new school is named for civic leader and journalist Frank W. Mayborn and for his wife, Sue Mayborn. Frank Mayborn owned the Temple Daily Telegram, Killeen Daily Herald and KCEN-TV, Temple's NBC affiliate, before his death in 1987. Publisher Sue Mayborn now owns all three media outlets.

"UNT's journalism program has a strong tradition of preparing students to be excellent journalists, with Pulitzer Prize winners among its graduates and a host of successful working journalists around the nation. UNT is proud to open a school dedicated to training professional communicators, and we are honored to partner our programs with the Mayborn legacy," says Wendy K. Wilkins, UNT provost and vice president for academic affairs.

UNT will conduct a national search for the new school's dean, who will report directly to the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

The Mayborn School will be the university's 12th school or college. It will house undergraduate degree programs that have been offered through the university's Department of Journalism since 1945. It will also house the graduate degree programs that have been offered through the Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism since 1999. The institute was later called the Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism. In the new school, the graduate programs will once again be offered through an institute.

UNT's journalism program has been nationally accredited since 1969 by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. Today, the undergraduate program has two divisions:

  • News, which consists of programs in news-editorial, photojournalism and multimedia news; and
  • Strategic Communications, which consists of programs in public relations and advertising.

The graduate programs include:

  • a master of journalism degree program,
  • a master of arts degree with a major in journalism, and
  • a graduate certificate in narrative journalism.

Although many newspapers have been cutting traditional reporting and editing jobs during the current recession, and leaving less space for story series in their print editions, Mitch Land, chair of the Department of Journalism, director of the Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism, and interim dean of the new school, says there will always be a need for well-trained journalists who deliver compelling, factually accurate stories.

"We are a school of function, not form, and the function of journalism eternally stays the same," he says. "The UNT journalism programs have always stressed in their curricula the key lifetime communication skills of good writing and oral presentations."

At the same time, Land says, "we're keen on staying relevant and accessible to our students, alumni and professional colleagues by providing training to report the news and craft compelling stories for delivery through all media channels, including such innovations as Twitter, social marketing venues, podcasts and the Web."

Land says both undergraduates and graduate students in the Mayborn School will benefit from name recognition. He pointed out that in addition to the Mayborn name being very well known in Central Texas, the annual Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, which the graduate program launched in 2005, has provided national recognition of the Mayborn name.

2008 Mayborn conference

Held every July, the conference brings talented nonfiction storytellers to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to discuss the aesthetic elements of nonfiction narrative prose writing that elevate readers' enjoyment without compromising facts.

Past speakers have included Susan Orlean, author of "The Orchid Thief;" Hampton Sides, author of "Ghost Soldiers;" three-time Nobel Prize nominee Joyce Carol Oates; and N. Scott Momaday, a Pulitzer Prize winner and poet laureate of Oklahoma. National Public Radio host Ira Glass will be among the keynote speakers at this year's conference July 24-26.

"Most of the successful journalism schools and colleges benefit from name recognition," Land says, giving the Gaylord School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Oklahoma in Norman and the Schieffer School of Journalism at Texas Christian University as examples.

Elevating the Department of Journalism and the Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism into an independent school of journalism also will place the journalism faculty and administration in a stronger position to compete for external grants and private funds with other journalism schools and colleges, Land says. The programs also will be more attractive to new faculty members and better positioned to attract the best journalism students, who seek the most prestigious, nationally accredited degree programs, Land says.

"Freestanding status as a school is a recognition that our programs are worthy, and a tribute to what the journalism faculty, staff and students have accomplished," he says.

The cost of establishing the new school of journalism is minimal for UNT. In addition to a founding dean, the Mayborn School will eventually have chairs of the Department of News and Department of Strategic Communications, who will report to the dean. The school will continue to have a director of the graduate program, who will also serve as associate dean and work with the chairs and with the graduate and undergraduate faculty members to coordinate curricula in the departments.

Land says one of the goals of the new school is to raise funds for endowed chairs in strategic areas such as narrative journalism and business journalism the two areas of emphasis in the graduate program.

Nancy Kolsti with UNT News Service can be reached at nkolsti@unt.edu.

Read other stories in this issue:

May 2009

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