By Jesus Figueroa
Theatre arts and speech have petitioned to split and become two separate departments.
The petition originated from communication professor Edward Stevenson and will create a Communication Studies Department.
Stevenson said there’s no chair lined up, but there may be a vote during the spring to determine the new chair of the department.
Full-time theatre professor Kelley Hogan opposed the the change because of the short notice to the department.
“Part of it is because the arts are the first programs, as well as athletics, that tend to be cut when it comes to budget restrictions,” Hogan said. “We get fewer hours allocated to us (arts) because we have smaller classes and have a large department, like speech, which we were a part of.”
Theatre arts chair Michael Kasnetsis said that the split had nothing to do with the budget, but it may have been influenced by the way he had allocated hours or class sections.
“In 2005, speech had 70 percent of the hours and theater had 30 percent. Since that time, I have adjusted the split to 55 percent speech and 40 percent theater, with the rest going to broadcasting,” Kasnetsis said.
Since 2007, the Communication Studies Department has expanded and is no longer just taught by a majority of adjunct teachers.
Four full-time teachers have been hired since and have changed the department.
“The difference between 2007 and now is dramatic,” Kasnetsis said. “The core full-timers are very committed. They have created an accomplished speech forensics program, a comprehensive expansion of communication studies courses, plus the addition of the communication studies AAT degree.”
With theatre being in the P2 art complex and communication studies planning to move into the soon-to-open Student Success and Retention Center, the two departments would be housed in different buildings.
Each department benefits from the split by being able to adequately structure their discipline and focusing curriculum.
The petition filed by Stevenson states that the direction of communication studies is no longer in commonality with either broadcast or theatre.
Kasnetsis said that for theatre students it may mean having fewer class sections and productions may shrink. This reduces the range of experience students get, but communication studies has no downside.
The Communication Studies Department has developed a competitive curriculum to help communication majors transfer to universities.
Kasnetsis said, “My opinion is that it’s unfair to both disciplines to expect a single chair to be optimally effective in two very different teaching cultures and in two separate buildings.”