Media programs merge in new college

Earlier this summer, Butler finalized the process of creating its sixth college—The College of Communication—which will integrate all of the existing communications and media programs under one roof.

The decision was the result of a proposal made last year by several of Butler’s communication and media departments.

“There have been two failed attempts to try to converge these departments together in one,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jamie Comstock said. “They failed for various reasons, primarily because of university politics and appropriate funding mechanisms and such.”

As technology has advanced, the connection between all the communication disciplines become even closer.

“One of the things that I noticed was this oddity the communication studies department and the School of Journalism were in one college and the media arts department was in another college,” Comstock said. “A person who is interested in journalism needs to understand electronic journalism, print journalism and web journalism.”

The reasoning for the integration stems from the increasingly blurred lines between different types of communication and media as well as the difficulty of managing such a broad program through different departments in different colleges.

Some programs were split up in such a way that prevented them from operating to their full potential.

“A significant need was in journalism,” Nancy Whitmore, journalism department program director said. “Our program had the print side in the School of Journalism in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the electronic side was in the Media Arts Department, and today journalists have to do both,” she said.

The College of Communication will merge all these programs.

“With us at two different colleges, it just wasn’t possible to converge those two programs,” Whitmore said.

Currently, the College of Communication is divided into six different departments: strategic communication, creative media and entertainment, critical media and rhetorical studies, communication sciences and disorders, organizational communication and leadership and journalism.

Students entering this fall into the College of Communication have more changes coming their way.

“We’re going to work on creating a new major this year,” Whitmore said. “It will most likely be a multimedia journalism major that will encompass the entire discipline.”

Instead of having to choose, journalism students will be able to take part in a more integrated program.

Students in communication fields other than journalism will also have the benefit of a more inclusive communications program, as well as more resources.

“The university already had everything,” Bill Neher, interim dean of the college of communication, said. “We have a very large budget, certainly more than adequate for up-to-date equipment.”

Comstock added, the allocated resources came not from new revenue dollars, but from existing budgets that were moved into the new college.

“We’ve had increased interest from alumni, from prospective students and from colleagues in the field around the country,” Neher said.

Along with increased interest from alumni and colleagues, the new college provides an opportunity for the faculty to do new and different things with the old curriculum.

“I think the college is going to be so successful because the faculty is strong and they’re all energized about it and are already starting to enhance the curriculum,” Comstock said.

The College of Communication began operating in the fall 2010 and is housed in The Fairbanks Center.


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