Putting NSC on the SWOT

This is a guest post from Robert C. Chandler, the director of the Nicholson School of Communication.

As most of you already know, 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. Among the data we are required to report are the results of various SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analyses conducted by key constituent groups.

The SWOT exercise is an assessment and pre-strategic planning method widely used in business and other contexts. Essentially, identified strengths and weaknesses are aspects intrinsic (internal aspects) to the unit under analysis (e.g. school, program area, etc.). Opportunities and threats are aspects extrinsic (external) to the unit under analysis. SWOT input has been collected from NSC faculty in each program area for each program (including the graduate program), students and alumni and from NSC Board of Visitors members.

Here is a short select summary of some of the more frequently mentioned points which have been generated thus far in various sessions:

Students – talented/well prepared
Students – Limited access programs high admission standards
Administrative leadership
High standards
Global studies opportunities
Growth in research
Popular majors/programs

Mass communication programs do not reflect real world converged media
Lack of national profile
Lack of recognition
Lack of research in local community on communication issues
Lack support of local media/community
Insufficient alumni engagement, financial support, infusion of alumni perspective, experience
Lack of business instruction
Lack of digital/new media courses/training
Lack of student access to emerging technology
High teaching loads for research faculty
Insufficient numbers of teaching faculty
Insufficient resources
Insufficient space (including classrooms, offices, available facilities)
Relationship with other UCF colleges (e.g. Business, Medicine, etc.)
Disasters and crises (manmade/natural)
Producing students proficient in converged media – workforce opportunities
PBS provides real world opportunities for TV broadcast
Partnerships with business community
Expand and develop global studies program
Crisis communication
Leveraging alumni base for scholarships, etc.
Raise profile with converged media program
Industry’s accelerated change provides opportunity for NSC to lead
Partnerships & mergers
International programs & study abroad
Professional certificate programs
Role for alumni
Lack of student ethics
Economy, state funding
Fear of change by faculty
Insufficient external funding for research
Lack state and private funding – budget cuts, hiring freeze, & economy
Competition among other top university comm. programs
Students lack of awareness of current/world events
Competition – other programs UF/UM/Full Sail
Keeping up with changing technology
Program and resource relevance in a fast pace environment
Increased research expectations
State emphasis and funding of STEM programs
Managed growth in numbers of students
These are all useful and reflect various perspectives. These are generative insights which may be useful as we think about advancing NSC. It is also important to note that these did not emerge as “consensus” points – and in some cases some of these are in “tension” with other points. Disagreements are not a bad thing – as long as we continue to learn and gain insight from various perspectives – which remains our primary goal in this process.

We are always looking for feedback and I’d like to invite your input for the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats facing the school at this point in our history. As you think about NSC from your own perspective there are a handful of useful questions which might be helpful for you to contemplate. These include:

How could the school/program address identified weaknesses?
How could the school/program leverage identified strengths?
How could the school/program avoid or minimize identified threats?
How could the school/program take advantage of identified opportunities?
What aspects identified are most important to you?
What recommendations for future efforts would you make?
How best can talk about these issues be turned into specific plans for action?
Let me (robert.chandler@ucf.edu) know what you think. I look forward to reading your thoughts and learning more about your perspectives on the situation in which the NSC seeks to move forward.

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

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