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A&S okays journalism certificate

Undergraduates can now earn a certificate in Policy Journalism and Media Studies, after the Arts and Sciences Council approved the new program at Thursday's meeting. Also yesterday, faculty discussed admissions data and policies with Director of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag and Athletic Council Chair Kathleen Smith.

The journalism program will provide a formalized means to study the intersection of media policy, journalism, global culture and communications.

Students who earn the certificate will have an added boost should they choose to pursue journalism as a career, said Kenneth Rogerson, adjunct assistant professor of public policy studies and research director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Communications and Journalism.

"Given Duke's record of sending journalists out into the world, we wanted to be able to give them something to show for it," he said.

To earn the certificate, students must complete a core journalistic ethics course; a course in either television, magazine or newspaper journalism; three electives; and an innovative capstone course that involves both an internship and a classroom experience to integrate practical experience with more theoretical knowledge.

Rogerson said that throughout the program, faculty will try to achieve a balance between building skills and teaching academic concepts. "We really wanted to make it a journalism program combined with a liberal arts education," he said.

Admissions dominated the rest of the meeting, with Guttentag speaking about this year's numbers and the general nature of college admissions, and Smith clearing up apparent misconceptions about the admission of intercollegiate athletes.

Guttentag had nothing but glad tidings to report after a record-setting year at the admissions office.

"I was really happy with how this year ended up," he said. "This was an unbelievably strong applicant pool."

In addition to the strong numbers, Guttentag expressed pleasure and bemusement at the success of notifying applicants of admission decisions over the Internet. One thousand students checked the site in the first five minutes after the results were posted.

Questions from committee members yielded ruminations from Guttentag on topics ranging from special admissions preferences - the University added an arts designation this year, giving extra attention to applicants with talents in music, dance, drama or visual arts - to recruiting in Pakistan, which has essentially ceased for safety reasons.

Duke has not embraced the notion of "a balanced class, not balanced students" as much as many other schools, and letters of recommendation are often the deciding factor among highly qualified applicants because they show "who's really got it," he said.

Guttentag also weighed in on the University of Michigan affirmative action lawsuits, currently being argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. He predicted that race would not be completely eliminated from college admissions, but thought it unlikely that the Michigan points system would be allowed to continue. Duke reviews each applicant as an individual, but does factor race in admissions.

Guttentag said he is eager to hear the court's decision. "I send Sandra Day O'Connor flowers every week," he joked. "I only wish her child were in the applicant pool."

During Smith's brief presentation, she said changes in admissions guidelines that bring in more "lower-range" football players were blown out of proportion by the media, and that no gross or wholesale changes occurred. She did say that discussions of such matters in the future would be more formalized.

The second purpose of Smith's address was to spread the word about the Athletic Council, which reviews admissions policies and assesses the progress of student-athletes, among other activities. Members are nominated by the Executive Committee of Academic Council and appointed by the president, and give the faculty a voice into athletic affair.

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