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Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

"The First Amendment gives everyone -- including nuts -- free speech,
but free speech has a purpose: that the people may judge for themselves
and bury the nuts with indignation. We fail our founding fathers if we
let blowhards rage on talk radio, in little magazines and in nasty
books without delivering counterattacks.

   -- Barron's, Aug. 9, 2004 (Thanks to alert WORDster John Mollwitz)

Department heads differ on new term limits

By Stephanie H. Olsen

March 31, 2004 | Two men, two opinions, one topic. Journalism Department Head Ted Pease and accounting Department Head Richard Jenson voiced their opinion on the new department head term limits while many others are keeping silent.

Beginning July 1, department heads will be under a five-year term limit.

After the five years an evaluation by their college dean will take place. If the evaluation is in their favor, their contract will be renewed for an additional five years.

This change in policy represents a cut in salary that will be spread over a three-year step decrease.

It will also mean a change in careers, and for some a change in universities.

While both men were willing to discuss the subject -- unlike most department heads contacted for this story -- their outlooks and reactions were somewhat different. Jenson said that his first reaction when he heard the new policy was relief.

"I was happy that I wouldn't have to be department head forever. In some case having a department head in longer than 10 years can start to be a disadvantage to the department. New people bring new ideas and new energy," said Jenson.

While Jenson feels it would be an adjustment "to be so involved with the decisions and direction of a department," and then to no longer hold those keys, he has no big concerns.

He feels it will be a good thing for the university in the long run.

Jenson plans on resuming a regular faculty position teaching once his term as department head is over.

Pease, on the other hand, wonders if the change in policy may lessen the respectability of the position and in turn the university.

"If the role as department head is rotated through the tenured staff members, it may then become a chore and not a responsibility. There comes with this job a need for many different roles. We are the fund raiser, welcome wagon, administration and we help give the students the tools they need to survive. Over time it might have an affect on the quality of instruction offered," said Pease.

Pease also voiced concerns that by changing this policy the university might be less likely to perform national searches for new professionals. If that's the case, it might miss out on some outside talent that could benefit the university.



Copyright 1997-2004 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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