The School of Mass Communication has moved to a new college! No longer in the college of professional studies, the SMC is now in the college of social sciences and communication. Mass Communication joins old college partners speech communications, criminal justice, and the Institute of Government in the new college, and now partners with anthropology, psychology, sociology and political science.
This transition, however, has very little impact on students – people who are currently enrolled will continue with their degree plan, and those who are newly enrolled will follow the required curriculum as normal.
In addition to an adjustment in our undergraduate programs, we have introduced a new class – MCOM 1300 FYC: Careers in Mass Media, it will be a first-year colloquium. This will be a class that students can take as a part of the first year requirements – it is an introduction to all the many things you can do in mass communications that most incoming students are not aware of.
Many of the departments here at UALR are interested in issues such as service learning, outreach efforts, and providing students opportunities to get real-world experience. The motto chosen for the SMC, “Cutting edge academics meets community needs” aligns not only with those other departments but also with the entire university’s mission.
The SMC is making great strides in the area of awards and accomplishments. Students are playing active roles both in and out of the classroom, and shining a positive light on the school as a whole, not just the SMC. Just recently, a group of our students—Rachel Frey, Bricen Pace, Janet Patrick-May, Steven Savage, and Courtney Collins were awarded with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Prism Award and another student, Josh Harrison was given the award of “Best Director” at the Little Rock Film Festival. In addition, our newspaper The Forum received 18 awards, including ‘Reporter of the Year’ at the Arkansas College Media Association conference in April.
I am also happy to announce that we were just endowed with a $1.4 million scholarship from Dan and Johnnie Winn. Dan Winn, who died in 1998, was chief engineer for KARK radio station, now KARN-AM. His widow died last year. The Winn Scholarship will eventually generate more than $60,000 in annual scholarships for Mass Communication students.
Upgrading classrooms and equipment are essential to the learning environment, which is why we now have HD video cameras, and are continuing to enhance each classroom as funds are allotted. We recently received $50,000 for computers, software, and furniture—our facilities are starting to look a lot better!
One of our main goals is to continue growing—the SMC enrollment has been up for the past two years. We take pride in our accomplished faculty and the amount of personal attention students receive due to smaller class sizes. Students are getting hands-on, real-world experience and they flourish, giving way to better internship and job opportunities here in the capital city and beyond.