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CUNY to cut Baruch program

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

an interview.

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."

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