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Communication & Journalism Department

Academic plan

Planning for the Future


During the period of Academic Plan II, the Department of Communication & Journalism has been more reactive than proactive. The department's unprecedented growth is what has caused us to be reactive. The growth has been caused by a combination of student demand, new university initiatives, and our own initiatives. The result is that we are now one of the largest departments in the A&S College, both in terms of number of majors and credit hours offered. We are the primary provider of O courses for UW students. We are home to the Oral Communication Center and the UW Debate team, and we play a major role in the Synergy Program for at-risk students. We have been proactive in the sense that our faculty took UW's call for internationalization seriously, and six have traveled overseas in recent years on UW-related activities. Our action items reflect the current state of our department in that they are both reactive and proactive - reactive in the sense of continuing to serve student demand and university needs, and proactive in attempting to build on current strengths of the department.

OCTOBER 10, 2008


(Action Item citations are from AP II)

  • CMJR 1: Usage at the Oral Communication Center is now 1,225 students a year, up from 559 students at the start of AP II. The Center has been newly refurbished, and current staffing now allows us to keep the Center open 30+ hours per week.
  • CMJR 2: We have continually monitored demand for our Public Speaking course and have been relatively successful in meeting this demand, even in the face of increased enrollment at UW. Public Speaking was added as part of the Synergy Program so we now utilize faculty to teach these special sections. We are currently testing a new course that may allow us to offer discipline-specific public speaking courses.
  • CMJR 3, 4: Funding for the Debate Team has been increased and stabilized through a combination of A&S College and developmental sources. This has allowed the team to remain nationally competitive such that two students won individual national championships during the term of AP II.
  • CMJR 8: We have continued our outreach efforts to the Journalism community. During AP II, our faculty members served as a News Council to arbitrate disputes between Wyoming newspapers and their readers, and we played an active role in the Wyoming Press Association Hall of Fame. An endowment for a new fellowship was established that will pay a UW student $5,000 to pursue a significant photojournalism project.
  • CMJR 9: For Outreach purposes, we restructured two of our courses into an online format. We have initiated the process of restructuring three more courses that are included in the new Bachelors of Applied Science program. 

Relevant Institutional Issues



COF 3-III, 1: Building Depth vs. Adding BreadthCOJO-5, COJO-6
COF 3-IV: Access, Delivery, Distance EducationCOJO 10

COF 3-IV: Access, Student Success, ensuring that students have access to the right tools and resources to succeed, establishing transition programs for first-year students, and stabilizing the funding for Synergy


COF 3-IV: Access, Inclusiveness with a focus on a proposed Center for European Studies


COF 3-V: Excellence, History and Culture of the Rocky Mountain Region


COF 3-VI: Leadership, Health Care


COF 3-VI: Leadership, Cultivating Leaders, including fostering civic engagement and developing leadership skills.



Action Items that require additional resources


Given the rapid and continued growth of the department in recent years, we need to develop a personnel plan that will identify the minimum number of faculty necessary to serve our majors and meet the continuing student impact on our courses. This plan is necessary under the mandate for student success in that we need to assure our students can get the courses needed to graduate. Increases in our Instructional Excellence Budget will help provide the physical resources, so the major focus needs to be on faculty numbers. As part of this plan, we also need to work with administration to monitor demand for our Public Speaking classes and to provide sufficient instructors to meet this demand. This plan could focus on faculty or on additional Graduate Assistantships. This is an ongoing process, which will also be cited in the A&S College plan. Also as part of this plan, sufficient funding needs to be provided for Public Speaking classes that are a component of the Synergy Program, which is a directive under Student Success (Stabilizing the Funding for Synergy) in Creation of the Future 3.


Continue and expand upon our commitment to Internationalization. In the past 3 years, 3 of our faculty members have used sabbaticals to teach in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Latvia. We would like to further develop these endeavors and the opportunities that they create for our students. We are especially interested in the proposed Center for European Studies. Our department provides financial support for these endeavors, but it also requires external funding both from grants and from the International Studies Office.


Determine the means to hire an Assistant Coach for the Debate Team so that the team remains nationally competitive and can (re)implement desired recruiting and development activities such as summer camps, a Hall of Fame, etc. As the most successful intercollegiate competitor at UW, the debate team provides visible evidence of UW's commitment to excellence in oral instruction. The debate team also plays a key role in Cultivating Leaders, as called for in Creation of the Future 3 since it is at the forefront of fostering student leadership and civic engagement.


Develop a plan that will provide sufficient funding for the Oral Communication Center, which has become an integral part of the UW educational experience, plays a key role in student retention and success, and should be considered as instrumental in any first-year student transition program. The OCC also contributes to student success by providing access to the right tools and resources to succeed, as called for in Creation of the Future 3. To some degree, its uncertain funding was alleviated by an increase in the Instructional Excellence Budget, but a long-range plan is necessary to ensure that UW remains at the forefront nationally with this important facility.


Explore the possibility of a Ph.D. program in Communication, Journalism, or both. This proposal falls under Building depth rather than adding breadth, in Creation of the Future 3. As one of the fastest growing programs at UW and now one of the largest, COJO is a logical site for building depth. This plan would benefit UW in that it would allow for an increase in the number of graduating Ph.D.s, which would enhance UW's standing as a research university. Should this plan advance beyond the exploratory stage, it would require new resources in the form of additional graduate teaching assistants and additional faculty.


Establish a concentration in Video Production: A joint effort between Communication & Journalism and Theatre & Dance. COJO's assessment process has indicated that students feel more courses in Broadcasting are necessary for their future success. The department has a plan to incorporate this coursework as a concentration under the Journalism major. One component of this plan is that it would allow COJO to create a partnership with Theatre and Dance to offer internship credit for Acting for the Camera courses. This would conform to Creation of the Future 3 by allowing both departments to build depth through interdisciplinarity. The Deans Development Office and the Department are examining the possibility of using a benefactor's endowment along with Instructional Excellence Equipment Funds to pay for the estimated $75,000 in equipment necessary for implementation.

Action Items that require only department resources


Explore with Health Sciences the possibility for joint coursework and endeavors. Creation of the Future 3 states that mechanisms should be developed for UW's involvement in statewide policy discussions related to health care. The need to communicate both to and with constituents is vital, and COJO can help facilitate these discussions.


Continue development efforts with the Journalism community and seek out ways to expand these efforts to those who graduated in Communication. Place specific emphasis on Excellence Funds that allow the department to enhance, creatively, both the education of our students and our own reputation.


Establish a Debate Hall of Fame to honor past UW debaters and supporters. Honoring past debaters is both a development effort and a contributing factor to an emphasis on the history of the region as cited in Creation of the Future 3 since it will identify and honor those who contributed to UW's excellence in oral communication.


Explore the means to provide better outreach opportunities that will allow teachers and professionals to complete their Masters or certification through a restructuring of the format of existing courses. COJO's assessment indicates that many working professionals and teachers would like to pursue advanced coursework but are unable to access this through traditional means. This conforms to Creation of the Future 3 under Delivery. 





















Feasibility Study






Initial Discussion










Develop Plan




Letter of Support from the Department of Theatre & Dance 

April 28, 2008

The Department of Theatre and Dance supports the Department of Communication & Journalisms action item to establish a Concentration in Video Production. As a carry-over from APII's planning process, the advantages of working in partnership would be of benefit to both programs, particularly in the offering of internship credit for work in the Acting for the Camera courses.

Leigh Selting,
Professor and Chair
Department of Theatre and Dance

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