Wanta stepping down as UF journalism department chair

Published: Friday, June 27, 2014 at 2:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 27, 2014 at 2:35 p.m.

Wayne Wanta, University of Florida's journalism department chair for the past three years, will step down in the fall and return to teaching full time.

"There are a million reasons for my resignation," Wanta said in an email to The Gainesville Sun. "The job has gotten increasingly demanding. I have two books coming out this year. I advise a huge number of graduate students. … In other words, I'm being pulled in too many directions. I feel overworked and under-appreciated."

Diane McFarlin, dean of the College of Journalism and Communications, told faculty and staff that Wanta informed her of his resignation this week.

"We are deeply grateful to Wayne for his service and contributions in this capacity since he returned to the college in 2011 and are pleased that he will continue to be an esteemed member of our faculty," McFarlin said.

McFarlin said she and Executive Associate Dean Spiro Kiousis will meet with faculty in mid-August to appoint an interim chair and will launch a national search for a new chair.

Wanta was hired as chair of the journalism department in June of 2011 after spending two years as the Welch-Bridgewater Chair in Sports Journalism at Oklahoma State University. Prior to his stint at OSU, Wanta had spent eight years on the faculty at the University of Missouri. He previously taught at UF from 1999 to 2001.

Wanta said he had agreed to serve as department chair for three years. May 31 was his third anniversary as chair.

"I discussed stepping down with the dean a year ago, giving her a year to search for a replacement," Wanta said.

However, he said, he didn't want to leave the college in the tough position of searching for three department chairs at the same time. The college was looking for advertising and public relations chairs as well.

"I was willing to continue serving as chair until a permanent replacement was found, but the dean and associate dean felt an interim chair would be better," he said.

Recently, Wanta was critical of the faculty shortage in the journalism department. The department has 17 full-time faculty, down from 23 when he became chair in 2011.

Adjuncts outnumber faculty by almost two to one in the journalism department. With graduate assistants, they account for most of the classes being taught, Wanta said. Wanta is a former member of the accrediting council that oversees journalism schools.

"Adjuncts and graduate teaching assistants taught 68 percent of our class sections in the department last year, so only 32 percent are taught by full-time faculty," Wanta said. "Accreditation standards require ‘the majority' of classes should be taught by full-time faculty. By my estimation, the department (not the college) would need to hire five faculty members to get back in compliance."

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