Moving forward – all eyes are on the future

A note from Robert C. Chandler, Ph.D., Director of the Nicholson School of Communication

The programs of the Nicholson School of Communication (NSC) are undergoing a State of Florida mandated review this academic year. A period of self-study and analysis has been underway for the past six months and a large amount of data is being reported to UCF academic affairs this fall semester. In the spring, at the invitation of UCF Academic Affairs, four academic administrators and scholars will visit NSC to assess our programs in mass communication and interpersonal-organizational communication.

These “consultants” will review the mountain of data about curriculum, enrollment, assessment and graduation rates, as well as alumni success. At the end of the process, NSC will be presented with an assessment of programs which will include recommendations for changes. After a reflective pause to consider the evaluation and corrective and enhancing recommendations, it will then be our responsibility to move forward as we continue to seek to enhance, grow and strengthen our programs.

In addition to the input from the program review evaluations, the College of Sciences’ Dean has asked the faculty of NSC to undertake a strategic planning process this academic year. Using input from our students, alumni and the professional communities in which our students are destined to pursue their careers our faculty will attempt to articulate a path forward for the school. The school will benefit from a clear vision and mission, clear strategic goals designed to ensure the quality of our academic programs and help our students succeed.

NSC programs will have to make adjustments in order to stay current with industry trends and new communication technology. I foresee a future where the degree matters far less than the knowledge, skills and abilities that a student masters. We will have to make the case that our academic programs are relevant and viable to attract and retain dedicated students, undergraduate and graduate as well as traditional and professional. The time has come for creative (even experimental) risk taking to do new things in new ways. We need to shift our focus to a future orientation and ask questions about how we can advance and embrace positive moves even as we cope with anxiety about the loss of our comfort zones.

Yet, despite these inherent challenges, I think that the academic context also provides tremendous resources to overcome such barriers and serve as a positive engine for change. We have among our faculty dedicated researchers and teachers who are motivated by openness to innovation and serving our constituents – but also some exceptional resources when it comes to assessment, pedagogy, industry trends, workplace needs, and learning opportunities for next generation knowledge, skills and abilities. We also have terrific allies in our change efforts. NSC Alumni, Board of Visitors, internship/employment companies, students and our partners can play a pivotal role in helping accomplish positive change. In the Nicholson School of Communication all eyes are on the future – and we’re moving toward it with purpose and enthusiasm.

Robert C. Chandler, Ph.D.
Director, Nicholson School of Communication

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