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Marshall students optimistic about consolidation

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  -- Marshall University students seemed hopeful about the future regarding a plan to merge the School of Journalism and Mass Communications with the schools from the College of Fine Arts. Alumni, however, aren't so sure.

The announcement came Friday as more changes were being made within the university. 

Starting July 1, the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications will merge with the School of Music and Theatre and the School of Art and Design to form a new college.

The new school, which will also be home to the Marshall Artists Series, does not yet have a name.

John Gibb, a 21-year-old senior from Pocahontas County, said the announcement came without warning and that he hasn't heard much in the way of reaction from students.

Gibb, who serves as the executive editor for Marshall's student newspaper, The Parthenon, graduates in May and will be among the last class to leave the standalone journalism school.

"I think it's a good thing to combine the two schools," he said Sunday.

"I don't know how it's going to work out but hopefully it goes very well. It's a good thing that it's happening."

Even though he wouldn't be a part of the new school he said the potential was great for those seeking a more visual approach to their careers.

"Right now nothing is going to be changed as far as the program goes," he said. "But this would provide for maybe a photojournalism major."

He said he thought those in advertising would see an advantage as well as they would have direct access to assistance with digital art from those in the School of Art and Design.

Travis Easter, a senior broadcast major, said he was still trying to decide how he felt about the changes. He thought the consolidation would make it easier for journalism students to work with those in art and design.

He could see distinct advantages in photography and videography.

"There's a lot of things that could really take off here that we maybe didn't think of before," said Easter, 23.

The Hurricane resident will be involved with the new school for a semester, as he graduates in December.

Other students and alumni took to social media to talk about the development.

Ryan Epling, who describes himself on Twitter as a freelance sportswriter and editor from Wayne, said he would "never donate a dime to #Marshall outside athletics because of the garbage they're pulling with SOJMC. Among best programs on campus."

"The SOJMC is the primary reason I went to Marshall in the first place," Matt Gatkja, a sportswriter and co-editor who studied at Marshall, posted to his Twitter. "Strong selling point that's now weakened."

Donald Van Horn, dean of the College of Fine Arts, will be also serve as dean of the new college. Janet Dooley, who is currently serving as interim dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, will be the director of the school and will serve as associate dean of the college, according to a university press release.

"I see tremendous opportunities for our students in progressive new programs ranging from advanced web design, photography, social media, digital media, graphic design and advertising," Van Horn said in the statement. "We will continue our renowned tradition of training outstanding journalism and public relations professionals, visual and performing artists and arts scholars, while capitalizing on degree programs that respond to rapidly evolving fields in digital communications.

"We are in a constantly changing era of digital communications and Marshall University is creating an entirely new model that I strongly believe will make us one of the most outstanding programs in the nation."

More information on the new college is expected as Van Horn recently formed a committee of journalism and arts faculty to develop policies and procedures and to recommend a name for the new college.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at or 304-348-4850.


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