Dean dismantles Marketing Department

By Campus Editor

Columbia’s Marketing Communication Department will be disbanded next semester, and the Journalism and Arts, Entertainment & Media Management departments will absorb its programs. 

The three concentrations currently housed in Marketing Communication are advertising, marketing and public relations. Advertising and public relations will be offered as majors in a new department that will also include the Journalism Department, according to a Feb. 14 announcement from Robin Bargar, dean of the School of Media Arts. The AEMM Department will absorb the marketing program as a new major. 

Students currently enrolled in the Marketing Communication program will not be affected by the change. 

Depending on their year in school, students who are already enrolled in the program will have the option of switching their major or retaining their current major and concentration, said Mirella Shannon, associate dean of the School of Media Arts and associate professor in the Interactive Arts & Media Department. 

Bargar said in the email that the move will not alter the path to graduation but rather give students an opportunity to collaborate.

Students will be able to voice opinions and concerns at open forums Feb. 24–27 in the Marketing Communications Office in the South Campus Building, 624 S. Michigan Ave.

“[Offering three new degrees] was just to make the degrees more [clear],” Bargar said in an Feb. 14 interview with The Chronicle. “This is a good opportunity for students, but it’s separate from this restructuring.”

A team of faculty members will decide how to integrate the new majors and their resources, Bargar said. Journalism Department Chair Nancy Day said journalism is often separated from advertising and public relations professionally because their objectives are different. 

Academically, other institutions have kept these programs close together, but it is important to maintain the boundaries between journalism, public relations and advertising programs once the departments merge, Day said. Though the skill sets are similar, the mission of each field is distinct. 

“The boundaries between these disciplines … are important to maintain because we have different audiences and different missions, and that’s why the curriculum in each of our disciplines will stay separate,” Day said. 

But the boundaries dividing these fields are not so firm once students get jobs, she said, adding that graduate journalism students sometimes enter public relations after graduating.

The faculty will assist the dean in finding a chair who will oversee the journalism, public relations and advertising majors, Shannon said. The faculty will write a job description detailing the role of the future chair of the department, Shannon said. 

“We’re trying to [assemble the faculty team] very rapidly,” Shannon said. “We need to find a better way of creating innovative programs and the task force will help us do that.”

Shannon said she hopes the redistribution will strengthen all the departments and attract more students. The Marketing Communication Department lost 54 students this spring compared to the spring 2013 semester, according to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness’ 2014 Census Enrollment Report. The Journalism Department lost 81 students and AEMM lost 23 students, according to the report.

According to Shannon, the Marketing Communication Department chose to merge the marketing program with the AEMM Department because they share common elements. The advertising, public relations and journalism programs are merging because they each focus on communication. Although their audiences are different, the three programs have overlapping skill sets, she added. 

“[The advertising, public relations and journalism programs] are all crafting communications in one form or another … all of them have to have their distribution channels [and] shared resources,” Shannon said. 

Strazewski said his concern about merging journalism, public relations and advertising is making sure students retain access to the department’s technology. The department has begun teaching multimedia courses, so students need to use multimedia reporting equipment, he said. Aligning the three programs will require more faculty input, but doing so could provide students with the skills they need, Strazewski said. 

“We want to look at the curriculum in terms of broadening the skill sets that students are receiving … it’s pretty clear now that the number of traditional journalism jobs—we’re not seeing that anymore,” Strazewski said.

Anthony Filomena, a senior marketing communication major with a concentration in public relations, said merging with Journalism Department could provide students with strong writing skills for jobs, but the administration should have asked students’ input. 

 “A forum like that should have been held before the decision was made to at least include the students’ [opinions],” Filomena said. “They’re giving the opportunity for current students to keep the marketing communication title, but the 2014 [students]  don’t have that option.”

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