The E.W. Scripps School of Journalism is moving more classes online in preparation for Fall Semester and cutting some classes due to university budget cuts.
Eddith Dashiell, the next director of the journalism school, said in an email that some courses have also been tweaked to be a hybrid of both online and in-person elements.
These changes can be partially attributed to the possibility of Fall Semester at Ohio University being held online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is, of course, our hope to be back together face-to-face in the fall,” university spokeswoman Carly Leatherwood said in an email. “If we can safely offer our courses face-to-face in the fall, we absolutely will, and we will put in place any precautions necessary to ensure the ongoing health of our community.”
Leatherwood said the university can not accurately project the future of the situation right now.
“Ohio University will continue to take whatever precautions are necessary to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff,” she said in an email.
Robert Stewart, current director of the journalism school, said the push to offer more classes online was an effort to prepare for the unknown.
“We made the decision that it was much easier for faculty for the Fall Semester to have a little bit more predictability about how the classes would actually be offered,” Stewart said, “instead of doing what happened in the Spring Semester where there was a mid-semester change.”
Stewart said that mid-semester change this year was difficult for faculty and students alike, and that it is a “50-50 chance” as to whether Fall Semester will be held face-to-face or online.
“It's not a perfect solution, and you know we all understand that both faculty and students often prefer a face-to-face environment, but this means there’s much less uproar than with a huge mid-semester change,” he said. “So we gave the faculty the option of face-to-face or online, and many people said they would prefer this, to have an online format so that they could prepare for that.”
Stewart said the university and faculty will hopefully be able to continue to build up the skills necessary to offer online classes and continue to make them resemble a face-to-face format.
“The way the transformation happened in the mid-semester, it's hard to capture all of our face-to-face elements online,” he said. “But with faculty having a little more time to plan for it, we think the courses can be more complete.”
The journalism school is also offering a reduced number of classes in the fall because of university budget cuts, Stewart said.
“There's definitely a lot of hesitation to hire people. I think there will be some possibilities in the coming year for some adjuncts to be added,” he said. “They really have to wait and see how many students are going to come in the fall.”
It does not appear faculty will be cut from the journalism program, but it is ultimately the dean and provost who make that decision as well as decide where to allocate funds, Stewart said.
“There will be other cuts made and other ways (to cut spending), but it doesn't appear that faculty positions are going to be cut because everybody understands that we . . . really can't afford to lose anybody else,” he said.
The track courses students need to take in order to graduate on time will be the same, he said, but there might be some changes made, such as making a two-section class only one section.
“The real change might be seen on electives. There may be one less elective that a student might want to take,” Stewart said. “There probably would be some changes like that, which would be evident if you were to compare the schedule from a year ago.”