SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Communication students at John Brown University (JBU) were told that the university is eliminating the Communication Department by the end of May 2022.
The information was first reported by The Threefold Advocate, JBU’s student newspaper, and later confirmed to KNWA/FOX24 by JBU’s Director of University Marketing & Communications Julie Gumm.
JBU told students on Monday, March 1, about the decision, KNWA/FOX24 confirmed. Financial issues are the reason for the closure, according to some students who attended the meeting.
In the meeting, we were told that classes like news writing and reporting will be adopted by other departments and taught by newly-hired adjuncts. Students were encouraged to switch majors – like the new integrated marketing communications in the business department or digital cinema for those who major in media productions. If we already have qualified faculty and the required courses, why not keep the department?
While we understand the unlikeliness of changing the fate of the department, and while we are not surprised at the administration’s actions, we will not let their conscience be at peace with the repercussions for our campus. By not communicating their decision to us appropriately, they have broken our trust that we are a priority to the administration.
A 30-minute meeting to inform us that our futures are at risk will not silence the indignation we feel due to this decision made that directly impacts us. We will not quietly watch the department that has tangibly supported us be reduced to ashes.Signed by communication students, published in The Threefold Advocate on 3/1/2021.
Currently, there are 27 students enrolled in Communications, according to Gumm.
One parent, who preferred her name not to be used, said there were no concrete answers about why the department is closing, except to say it was due to financial issues.
“[JBU] would not give any specifics just that they would help them and encouraged them to change to one of the new majors they were going to offer, and they’re committed to helping them graduate in four years, but never said how that would happen.”
Another parent whose son is a sophomore wrote on social media that he’s now faced with decisions he should not be forced to make. “Does he start over … transfer?”
JBU was founded in 1919 by broadcaster and evangelist John E. Brown, Sr. The student newspaper, The Threefold Advocate, has been published since 1937. In 2020, student enrollment was 2,343. The university’s Top 5 undergraduate programs are nursing, psychology, kinesiology, mechanical engineering, and biology, according to JBU’s website.