Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, named a task force today that will seek a new direction for campus news media in the wake of last week's closure of the student newspaper -- The University Leader.
The last printed issue of The Leader appeared on newsstands on Thursday, Jan. 31. The paper explained that a reduction in funding from the Student Government Association, together with inadequate advertising revenue, forced it to cease publishing printed editions. The editors said an online version of The Leader would continue.
President Hammond announced the Task Force on Dissemination of News and Information at a news conference this morning. "The charge to this task force is to review the media needs and aspirations of the FHSU community and then to develop recommendations aimed at increasing student engagement and implementing a multi-media model for the dissemination of student-produced news, information, analysis, opinion and entertainment," he said.
He asked the task force to complete its work and submit its recommendations by April 19 in time to be considered in the budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1.
Dr. Paul Faber, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, will chair the task force. Members of the task force are Dr. Scott Robson, chair of the Department of Communication Studies, Stephen Schleicher, chair of the Department of Informatics, Ron Rohlf, instructor of informatics, Dr. Chapman Rackaway, associate professor of political science, Shana Meyer, assistant vice president of student affairs, Jennifer Robinson, graphics and animation specialist in the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning Technologies, and two students, Gentry Heimerman, Halstead junior, and Matthew Whitmore, St. Francis senior.
"Currently the university community invests in four independent modalities of information and news delivery -- radio, TV, newspaper and electronic -- to disseminate news and information," the president said. "The changes in both our community environment and the national environment strongly suggest more of a synergistic approach to this task. FHSU is looking not to reduce its investment in the dissemination of news and information but to strengthen engagement with members of our community in responsible and efficient ways."
President Hammond said the task force would look for ways to strengthen the academic component for students who are interested in the media. "I strongly believe the time has come to develop an integrated model, not only for our co-curricular environment, but also for our formal curriculum. The charge of the task force is to concentrate on the co-curricular recommendations. The administration and faculty in the appropriate colleges and departments will be charged with the responsibility to implement any changes in formal curriculum."
He also announced a symposium to stimulate discussion about media needs on the FHSU campus.
"I am hopeful the entire FHSU community will embrace this discussion with vigor and interest," President Hammond said. "We have a unique opportunity to utilize this topic in classroom discussions and in research projects. To facilitate the ongoing campus discussion, we will host a symposium of local and regional experts during the month of March. I would encourage all faculty and staff who have an interest in this topic to attend."