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Changes coming for UNLV’s troubled journalism school

UNLV soon will finish a plan to overhaul its beleaguered journalism school.

Administrators told state higher education officials Thursday that big changes are coming for the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies, where sweeping shortfalls were revealed by an external review commissioned by UNLV earlier this year.

Responding to criticism from the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education, UNLV Senior Vice Provost Carl Reiber said the school is considering changes in leadership and curriculum, which were targeted as key weaknesses in the May study by journalism professors Marianne Barrett from Arizona State University and Dorothy Bland from the University of North Texas.

Reiber declined to offer specifics, noting that the school is still developing a strategy to be complete within a month.

“The faculty deeply care about student success, and they’ve reacted very positively,” Reiber said. “We’re looking at what future resources we have to address this.”

The report was especially critical of program Chairman Lawrence Mullen, who was said to “to lack an understanding of the key metrics related to enrollment, retention, graduation and budget.” Mullen could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Citing the program’s biggest obstacle as students’ inability to finish their degrees within six years, the review also raised concerns about curriculum bottlenecks and a lack of academic advisers. It noted that only 26 percent of students graduated on time in 2007, while UNLV as a whole had a graduation rate of 44 percent.

Reiber said UNLV has long acknowledged the need for more advisers, and the university hired at least two in the past two years. But Regent Trevor Hayes urged administrators to do more to support students through graduation.

“I know it’s expensive. I know it’s not a PhD,” Hayes said. “But this is a core mission, graduating students. … And it’s the right thing to do.”

Contact Ana Ley at aley@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512. Find her on Twitter: @la__ley.

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