Department merger spawns search for new chair


Senior Graphic Designer

Communication and Media Innovation

By Campus Editor

Nearly a year after the college’s announcement of the merger of the Advertising and Public Relations programs and the Journalism Department, an interdisciplinary committee has selected a name for the new department.

The college announced Dec. 19 that the merger will be called the Communication and Media Innovation Department. A committee, co-chaired by Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin, an associate professor in the Journalism Department, and Anne Marie Mitchell, an associate professor in the Advertising and Public Relations Department, will lead a search committee for a new chair. A description of the position was developed in December 2014 and posted in early January for applicants, according to Bloyd-Peshkin.

“We really want someone who has thought a lot about and worked a lot in the area of media, digital media and new media that also has the grounding in at least one of our program areas,” Mitchell said. “We are looking for a great leader who can motivate and unite people.”

The job description for the position was posted on the college’s Human Resources website and throughout various professional journals and online platforms. It states the college seeks somebody who is innovative, entrepreneurial, student-centered and able to collaborate with faculty, chairs and college administrators.

The chair search committee, comprised of full-time and part-time faculty from the new department and chairs of other departments, will continue accepting applications through January and will begin reviewing them in February, according to Mitchell. They plan to have a new chair selected to start in August for the Fall 2015 semester.

Students in the merged departments will retain their original major, but the name change is meant to encourage the creation of new curriculum within their programs, according to Robin Bargar, dean of the School of

Media Arts.

Bargar said although advertising, public relations and journalism require different skillsets, integrating the programs into one department will encourage collaboration because of the focus on communication.

“The journalism mission is sometimes very different from the advertising and public relations mission, but the way they communicate—especially with different channels—is very much the same,” Bargar said.

Julie Harris, internship coordinator of the Advertising and Public Relations programs, said she is proud of the department’s new name because it suggests that the programs offer something dynamic.

“This new name doesn’t represent what we were, but it represents what we are moving toward,” Harris said. “It opens the door for a grand scale of collaborations across advertising, public relations, journalism and [other departments].”

Connor Hudson, a senior advertising major, said he has mixed feelings about the department’s new name. Hudson said he liked the word “innovation” because it accurately represents what students are doing at Columbia, but he said he is not fond of labeling the department “communication.”

“The term ‘communication’ cheapens what we do,” Hudson said. “If I say ‘communications,’ people think [I’m] talking as a telemarketer on the phone and I hate that. When it comes to journalism, advertising and public relations, it’s very specific things that we do and they’re very important, so they need to be called out that way.”