Fall Updates from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication

For the Fall issue of Blue, the Alumni Insider, we asked Kathleen Richardson, Dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, about what’s happening in SJMC. Here’s what she had to say.

What’s new?
We will launch a completely online bachelor’s degree completion program in 2020. The online Bachelor of Arts in journalism and mass communication will feature a new communication major that will meet the needs of prospective students who have already earned an associate degree but wish to complete a bachelor’s degree to improve their lives and careers. It will be based on many of the classes currently in the SJMC curriculum, and will take the same professional, hands-on approach that has historically distinguished Drake communications education.

Who or what is making you proud lately?
Associate dean Kelly Bruhn and associate professor Chris Snider helped organize the fourth Media Now at Drake summer camp for middle school and high school students this July, drawing more than 90 students and their advisers and teachers from around the country to campus for three engaging and high-energy days of exploring writing, photography, videography, design, leadership, and entrepreneurship.

What has garnered a lot of buzz lately?
We co-hosted two “boot camps” related to the Iowa Caucuses that brought journalists from around the country to campus. In August, we partnered with SciLine, an initiative of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, on a three-day workshop on how to cover science-related issues in the presidential campaign. In September, we co-hosted a political reporting workshop with the Poynter Institute.

What has been a highlight of the semester so far?
The SJMC is celebrating the centennial of journalism and mass communication education at Drake in 2019-20. We are planning a series of professional events, including alumni events in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Des Moines. The celebration will culminate with an alumni reunion in Meredith Hall during Drake Relays 2020. Visit the Centennial website.

Tell us what you’re celebrating.
A photo by Drake sophomore Grace Hulin was a national winner in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence contest this spring. Sports reporting by SJMC senior Jessie Spangler was a national finalist. Student photography, reporting, podcasts, and publications were recognized in the regional SPJ contest. College Magazine has recognized Drake’s broadcast news curriculum as a top 10 program nationally. Lorien MacEnulty, a junior news, math, and physics major, won a national Goldwater scholarship and SJMC. Ashley Blazek, JO’19, was awarded a Fulbright fellowship. The work of Drake students won 21 awards in the Iowa College Media Association contest in February. Student ads won gold and silver awards in the local Advertising Awards contest the same month. Drake placed third in the international Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts website competition this spring.

And for fun:
If you could take any class offered at Drake this semester, what would it be?
For sheer fun factor, probably the January Term class we are offering on the recorded music industry. It’s taught by a local music entrepreneur who is a former director of copyright for Sony Music.

What’s your favorite memory of being an undergrad?
Late nights working in the Times-Delphic newsroom

What’s your one-sentence elevator pitch for Drake?
We help you find that sweet spot where your passions and skills meet what the world wants and needs (and will pay you to do!).

A new class of Bulldogs is in their first semester. What’s your wish for the class of 2023? 
It isn’t a “wish.” I KNOW that they will be just fine at Drake. They’ll find a major they love, surrounded by people who care about them, support them and challenge them. And they’ll graduate and get a good job.

Where have you unexpectedly met a Drake alum or Drake connection?
I was walking down a street in Amsterdam, a city of about a million people plus thousands of tourists, this summer when I heard, “Kathleen! Kathleen!” It was former Drake colleague Rachel Dykstra Boon, ED’99, GR’02.

Favorite spot on campus or the surrounding Drake neighborhood?
Meredith Hall, of course.

What annual Drake event do you most look forward to?
My husband and I, and one of our kids are Drake alums, so we always get a lot of visitors during Drake Relays. And the SJMC hosts an annual alumni reception on the Saturday evening of Relays, in the back lobby of Meredith, which is always a blast.

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