Central considers moving Public Relations to College of Business

Central considers moving Public Relations to College of Business

Aaron Kunkler, Staff Reporter

Recently, there has been discussion about moving the public relations program from the communication department, a subset of the College of Arts and Humanities, into the College of Business.

The idea was proposed by Kathryn Martell, Dean of the College of Business, and then endorsed by Kirk Johnson, former interim Dean for the College of Arts and Humanities and current Dean for the College of the Sciences.

“Occasionally, it becomes useful to look at if there’s a better way to put the pieces together,” Johnson said.

The movement of the PR program to the College of Business could benefit students by bringing the marketing and PR programs closer together, Johnson said.

The PR program was originally formed out of the journalism and communication studies programs in the communication department. However, many people see it as having more in common with a business program than with communication.

According to George Clark, vice president of Business and Financial Affairs, the move would have little financial impact on either of the colleges.

However, Phil Backlund, professor of speech communication and former chair of the communication department, said that the PR department may account for up to one-third of students in the communication department.

Backlund said he opposes the move, but no one other than the two deans has any real control over the process or negotiations.

“I didn’t think it was a good idea in the first place, and now it’s completely out of my hands,” Backlund said.

Moving the program would have direct consequences under the new responsibility centered management revenue model, which rewards departments 80 percent of the funding from student-credit hours.

Based on a budget model provided by Clark at the last faculty senate meeting, every college in the university is generating a revenue (with summer revenues included) outside of the College of Business.

The management department of the College of Business is currently losing $1.02 million per year.

In contrast, the communication department generates a $561 thousand surplus every year.

Losing one third of its total student-credit hours, as well as students in the program, would likely hurt the communication department, but may help the management department.

However, nothing has been decided yet. Johnson said the move would largely be based around providing benefits to the students instead of university economic concerns.

“We’re a long ways off from something that I think would be a done deal,” Johnson said.

Cesar Garcia, the former chair of the Communication department, recently stepped down, and Rodney Bransdorfer is the current interim chair.

Robertson’s first day on the job was Feb. 3, so it’s unknown at this time how much consideration she has been able to put into the proposal.

Martell had no comment other than saying that discussions were underway with the College of Arts and Humanities.

Ultimately, students and faculty alike will have to await a decision from the college deans to get a sense of if, how and when these changes may take place.