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Date:   May 22, 2017

To:        Faculty and staff
School of Journalism and Communication

From:  Juan-Carlos Molleda, PhD
Edwin L. Artzt Dean and Professor

Re:        Financial plan and strategic initiatives in 2018–20

 

As a follow-up to my previous memo about the tactics we are currently implementing to close the SOJC’s $1.9 million budget gap (Molleda, May 17, 2017), I would like to provide more detail about our plans for AY 2018–19 and 2019–20. During that time, our focus will be on continuing to balance the budget while strengthening the school’s offerings for our students as well as its preeminence among journalism and communication schools nationwide.

First, I would like to clarify some upcoming changes that are not part of the budget-balancing process per se. As I mentioned in my email update two weeks ago (Molleda, May 8, 2017), the provost’s decision to create a new Department of Cinema Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) will result in the voluntary reassignment of two full-time and one part-time tenure-track faculty from the SOJC to CAS in AY 2018–19. The university is allocating funds to rehire the two full-time positions on our Media Studies faculty. Although this change is not motivated by budgetary concerns, it will allow us to apply the loss of the part-time position toward our budget gap.

The Portland Senior Experience will continue. However, as no students have yet enrolled for fall, we are taking the opportunity to evaluate the administrative support required to keep this successful program growing. Once a plan is finalized, we will communicate about it.

Between 2018 and 2020, we project further revenue growth from increases in enrollment for our three professional master’s programs. We will also introduce a new professional master’s in brand responsibility and explore other graduate program options, including 4+1 and hybrid programs.

We will also continue seeking curricular efficiencies that may lead to further reductions in non-tenure-track faculty (NTTF) FTE to meet the ebb and flow of student demand. Policy changes, including NTTF and Officers of Administration academic support account allocations, will contribute to cost savings. We will also continue evaluating efficiencies in administrative services, such as IT, faculty support, and operations. OR Media will shift to a self-sustaining model, and the Scholastic Journalism program will move off the general fund, ideally to a donor-funded account, by July 1, 2018.

Over the next few years, we must continue developing our offerings for students as well. At the spring meeting, Journalism Advancement Council members expressed their commitment to three priorities they believe will strengthen our national preeminence while enhancing the experiences, skills, and employability of SOJC students:

  1. Attracting and retaining talented undergraduate and graduate students
  2. Experiential learning
  3. Academic excellence

I am exploring a few strategic initiatives designed to fulfill all three of these priorities. As you know, one of these projects involves remodeling Allen Hall to accommodate an Experience Hub, which will be a dedicated space for Student Services, state-of-the-art production capabilities, a proposed research institute, and student collaboration. After discussions with faculty, staff, and students, I have determined that this project needs further consultation and analysis. As a result, the remodeling will likely not begin until 2019.

To increase our academic excellence and capitalize on the new Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, we are also exploring the establishment of the aforementioned Research Institute for Communicating Complexity (working name) with an emphasis on communication studies and experiential projects about science, technology, and the environment.

I know there have been some questions and public speculation about whether investment in these projects is prudent at a time when we need to be cutting costs. What may not be widely understood is that the money earmarked for these projects comes primarily from carryforward funds that we cannot use for our operational budget or salaries. The remainder of the cost will be picked up by donors who are as excited as I am about putting the SOJC on the map as a destination journalism and communication school where students get hands-on experiential learning and essential skills for the evolving media landscape.

It is a crucial time for the industries we serve. Our students’ futures in the creative, media-led professions will become our future, as these growing fields now play an integral part in the overall global economy. We are a part of that forward-thinking momentum, and we need to capitalize on this opportunity.

Knowing that it is critical for the future of the SOJC to show a clear link between the strength of our programs and our students’ success after graduation, we are exploring the development of a strategic campaign, with the help of industry supporters, to highlight how the various SOJC areas prepare our students for dynamic careers. To increase both our national reputation and our revenue, we must increase the value proposition of our programs and communicate that value to the markets we serve.

If my vision for these initiatives is successful, I believe they will ultimately result in increased revenue, which will help move us closer to our goal of a balanced budget. With this imperative in mind, I will lead the development of goals and strategies for these initiatives in the following weeks and over the summer.

Thank you all for your continued understanding and willingness to engage in discussions about these difficult issues. As always, I welcome your feedback and look forward to navigating our future challenges and successes together.