Journalism school to reduce number of adjunct professors

Collin Eaton

The UT School of Journalism will lose several veterans of the news business next semester as budget cuts cause a reduction in the number of adjunct professors. The school will drop several specialized classes and assign full-time faculty to more basic courses, leading to fewer open slots for adjunct instructors. School director Glenn Frankel said adjuncts bring a great combination of involvement in the real world of journalism and solid teaching experience, and many of them have long-standing relationships with the school. “We’re using less this spring than we did in the fall, but everyone remains on our roster of valued teachers, and we won’t hesitate to turn to them again when we need to,” Frankel said. The College of Communication announced a policy in early August that would increase the workload for full-time faculty without increasing the number of classes the college offers. Rod Hart, dean of the College of Communication, said the policy would help the college pay for one time, 2-percent merit-pay increases. Hart said it is difficult to cut back on faculty because the school has “a lot of students and a lot of teaching responsibility.” Michael Whitney, an adjunct journalism lecturer, received an e-mail last week informing him that he will not be offered a teaching contract for next semester. For the past four years, Whitney taught J 315, the fundamental journalism class that teaches students how to gather information, report and write effectively. Whitney has five decades of news experience working in television and was the senior broadcast producer of “60 Minutes.” He won 23 national news Emmy Awards, three Peabody Awards and two RTNDA/Edward R. Murrow Awards, according to the College of Communication website. Whitney said he would have loved to continue teaching, but as the new workload policy came down during the summer, it was clear there would be fewer adjunct lecturers. “I think if I were in their position, it’s exactly what I would have done,” Whitney said. “But I always thought we [adjuncts] brought a certain vitality to the [classrooms].” The cuts will affect the entire college, but one student said it may damage the School of Journalism the most. Lara Haase, a photojournalism and psychology senior, said Whitney was a very encouraging teacher and showed great interest in his students. “The whole situation is unfortunate, especially for the journalism program. The adjuncts are crucial because they have been out in the field and can give students real-world advice,” Haase said.