School of Communication Sees Major Changes

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Music Video

Singer/songwriter JD Eicher (alumnus) working with video production students Ricky Stickel, Jack Karson and Ian Ross on a music video.  Contributed photo.

Communications faculty and staff from the School of Communication called a meeting for all students in the department on Tuesday, Feb. 18 to discuss the new changes. These faculty members included Dr. David Barner, Bradley Weaver, Kandice Hartner, Dr. Brittany Rowe-Cernevicius, Dr. Keith Corso, Gary Swanson and Dr. Colleen Merrick.

The majors and minors within the program are going through significant changes, the various faculty members explained. Come fall 2020, the majors and minors will all have different names and different requirements. However, there will be three common courses required for each major. These courses are COM 203-Media Writing, COM 205-Mass Communications and COM 430-Audience Research and Analysis.

The current Broadcasting and Media Production major will change into Broadcasting and Sports Communication.

There will be a new major within the School of Communications: Creative Media Production. This major is entirely new at Westminster College and will be offered beginning next semester.

“Our School of Communication students and alumni have won national awards—including Emmys—for music videos, documentaries and public service announcements,” Barner, professor of broadcast communications and outgoing chair of the School of Communication, said. “We’re excited to launch another major that will provide an even wider range of career options and opportunities to succeed.”

“Creative Media Production is an exciting area of growth and opportunity right now,” Dr. Jeffrey Coker, vice president for academic affairs and enrollment and dean of the College, said. “The new major in our School of Communication will serve current and future Westminster students very well.”

The public relations major is changing to Strategic Communication and Social Media (SCSM) while the Communication Studies major is changing to Public Communication and Leadership (PCL).  The multimedia journalism will remain as a minor. While these changes do not affect students currently in the School of Communication, underclassmen can shift into one of these new majors starting next semester when the new classes will be offered.

Most of the classes currently offered in these majors will still be taught, but they will have different prefixes. For example, the current public relations courses have a “PR” code, but under the new major, they will instead have an “SCSM” code. The communications faculty at the meeting said that this should not impact registration.

There will be several faculty changes within the School of Communication, as well. Barner, the current chair of the School of Communication, is retiring after this semester. He will continue as an adjunct professor and director of broadcasting. Prestien, a public relations professor, is also leaving. Hartner, currently an adjunct faculty member, is going to become a full-time lecturer of communication to help teach courses in the new creative media production major.

“I am excited and thankful for the opportunity to continue working in the School of Communication at Westminster. The Creative Media Production major focuses on storytelling, hands-on learning, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with students to build on these concepts,” Hartner said.

Merrick, communications professor, is stepping up as the new chair of the department.

“I think every good department is always changing, so to have ours make a change, I think it’s going to bring in a lot more students and be a positive thing,” junior broadcasting and media production major Maddie Keenan said.

Barner emphasized multiple times throughout the meeting that students currently enrolled in the School of Communication will still be able to finish their degrees.

Copy Edited by: Danielle Grady

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