A dispute has broken out at the City University of New
York about administrators' decision to scrap a graduate program for business
journalists only weeks after hiring the top editor of BusinessWeek magazine to
lead a new graduate school of journalism.
Officials yesterday confirmed that the master's program in business
journalism at Baruch College is no longer accepting new students and will shut
down after the current class completes its course work next year. Since it
began six years ago, the program has produced about 30 graduates.
Professors and students had been optimistic about the program's future
within CUNY's new journalism school because the first dean, Stephen B. Shepard
of BusinessWeek, was familiar with the curriculum. His former deputy at the
magazine, Sarah Bartlett, is active in the program and holds a professorship
endowed by a $1.5-million donation from Bloomberg L.P. Shepard is slated to
join the university next month.
The program's director, Joshua Mills, blamed its demise on a combination of
"market forces and university politics." In a letter to supporters, obtained
by Newsday, he said Shepard "told me recently he would have liked for our
program to continue" but chose not to become embroiled in CUNY politics.
Shepard yesterday referred questions to CUNY spokesman Michael Arena, who
said the new school's curriculum would include "a track" for business
journalism. He also said Shepard "did not participate in the decision to close
down the program at Baruch College."
Baruch College spokesman Vince Passaro said the program is being shuttered
because of "under-enrollment" and concerns "it would be somewhat redundant with
the new CUNY graduate school of journalism, which will have a business track."
Mills, the program's director, acknowledged it had fallen short of
enrollment goals, attracting no more than 17 students per year compared with a
goal of 50 to 60. "That was not sufficient to sustain the program," he said in
Mills and others, however, said they had hoped the program would be
incorporated into the journalism school, set to open in fall 2006. That now
appears unlikely because the school's business concentration is expected to be
smaller than the 36-credit, 18- to 24-month program being scuttled.
Recent graduates lauded the program as giving them the necessary skills to
tackle complex stories. Shawn Turner, a reporter at the Burlington Free Press
in Vermont, said: "It was a great all-round experience. ... It's sad to see the
program being cut."