The University of Maryland Journalism School staged a media event yesterday to protest its anticipated shift from the College Park campus to Catonsville in the suburbs of Baltimore.
The shift is just a rumor right now, Dean Ray E. Hiebert said, but the rumor is from "unimpeachable sources" and is expected to be borne out by a public recommendation due next Monday from a university task force. For several reasons, spelled out in a carefully prepared press release and - statement, the anticipated shift could "spell the end of journalism education at the University of Maryland," Hiebert said.
Before Hiebert said all that, he waited 20 minutes for the television cameras to arrive and set up in a room filled with full-time and part-time faculty and several students.
Also present were reporters from the campus newspaper and radio station and The Washington Post. "Some of our faculty are also covering for the Baltimore Evening Sun," Hiebert said. How could they cover an event in which they are participants? "They've been very silent," Hiebert said.
Things got started when WTOPTV's Chris Gordon announced, "We're ready."
Until yesterday, Hiebert said, "We haven't made any appeal to anybody. Now it's time for some public discussion." The proposed shift from College Park to the university's Catonsville campus, Hiebert said, would deprive the school of its proximity to Washington, "the world's news capital" would cost the school its accreditation and would deprive its students of the "broad liberal arts background" to be found only at the larger campus.
Ed Carroll, a fulltime faculty member who lives in Baltimore, said he wants to continue teaching journalism in College Park "because all my journalism contacts are in Washington." Part-timer Dave-Merkowits, an "active journalist" who writes a syndicated column, said, "I simply would not make the move."
Jim Grunning, a full-time teacher with nine years at the school, called the proposed shift to the smaller, newer Catonsville campus "a slap in the face.We've worked very hard at low pay to build up the program.That thanks we get from the university is having the rug pulled out."
Hiebert acknowledged that rug will stay about where it is for a few years even if the shift occurs. Whether or not it happens at all, as part of a plan to balance student body size at the university's four campuses, will depend on the opinion of the board of regents, who have yet to consider the matter.