University Statement on Communication Program Changes

March 2, 2021

As part of our dedication to maintaining academic excellence, preparing students for their vocation, and keeping JBU affordable, JBU regularly reviews our academic programs and looks at career trends in the global marketplace. There are also important economic factors in creating, changing or ending programs as JBU strives to keep tuition as low as possible while balancing our operating budget.

Over the past couple of decades, the media landscape has shifted dramatically with the waning of small-market outlets, a significant decline in the availability of jobs in these fields, and the blending together of more traditional communication technologies. Under excellent and innovative leadership in the department over the last decade, JBU has experimented with multiple, innovative curricular revisions and the repurposing of various physical spaces to maintain enrollments in our existing communication programs. 

However, enrollment numbers have declined in the past decade from 55 to 27, and the student-faculty ratios in these courses continue to rank at the bottom of all of our majors — well below what is financially sustainable. Simultaneously, blended programs, such as JBU’s new Integrated Marketing Communication major, have become more popular across the nation and experienced increasing job prospects.  

To maintain our overall financial goals, JBU sometimes has to make difficult decisions in lower-enrolled majors. We understand that these changes are felt deeply by our students, but JBU believes we have created the best possible path forward to prepare JBU students for their chosen vocation.

Beginning in Fall 2021, JBU will no longer offer a major in communication. The communication department will have a full-time faculty member through May 2022. Seniors and the majority of juniors, 18 of the 27 current students, should graduate with a bachelor’s in communication. Advisers will also work with the four sophomores to see if we can accommodate a communication degree and find appropriate program fits for the five freshman communication majors.

JBU will create a new journalism minor. The majority of our existing journalism courses will continue to be taught by highly-qualified adjunct professors with experience in the media industry. 

The university also believes in the vital importance of hands-on practicums and will maintain publication of The Threefold Advocate student newspaper and the Nesher yearbook under their existing advisers. We will also continue the broadcasting practicum with KLRC. The university is looking at how production and media courses may fit within a different department, and Golden Eagle Productions, our student media club, will continue to provide hands-on experience for students interested in that aspect of the communications field.

Starting in Fall 2021, JBU will offer a new major in Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) within the Soderquist College of Business. Created in partnership with past and current faculty in the communication department, the IMC program is a unique combination of communications, marketing, graphic design and data analytics. We believe this broad range of skills will better equip JBU students for a wider variety of positions in today’s evolving marketplace.

The communications professors and other department faculty are available to talk with students and are dedicated to supporting them and finding the right path toward their vocation, whether through the IMC major or a different program.