Comm program expands

Darren D’Altorio

The School of Communication Studies is looking to expand its graduate program to include the entire College of Communication and Information.

Doing so will “broaden the reach” of its curriculum to include more faculty and attract more potential students, Tim Smith, professor of journalism and interim graduate director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said.

“We’re taking an existing Ph.D. program that is now housed in Communication Studies and moving it to the college level,” Smith said. “So all four schools in the college will have access to the program.”

Right now, the graduate program only includes the School of Communication Studies, one of the four under the umbrella of College of Communication and Information. The expanded program will include the schools of Journalism and Mass Communication, Library and Information Science and Visual Communication Design.

The expansion allows faculty from all the schools to extend their expertise into the graduate program, LuEtt Hanson, associate dean of the College of Communication and Information, said.

The goal of this expansion, according to the written proposal summary drafted by the graduate coordinators of the four schools, is to provide fresh perspectives on important research questions for doctoral students while encouraging faculty to participate and view their work through interdisciplinary lenses.

This end goal is causing excitement throughout the college, especially for the School of Library and Information Science.

“Library and Information Science is the top-ranked masters-only library program in the country, but they can’t go any higher because they don’t have a Ph.D. program,” Smith said. “So they are very anxious to get into the Ph.D. business.”

On a macro scale, the state of Ohio could also benefit from this expansion.

Chancellor Eric Fingerhut has shown an interest in any kind of program that “fosters economic development” in the state of Ohio, Smith said.

“The idea is if we move this program to the college level it might enhance the opportunity to attract additional funding,” Smith said.

Attracting additional funding for research from federal agencies, foundations and corporate contracts allows the doctoral students and professors to work with good research ideas, potentially turning them into a business or a product, helping further the economic health of northeast Ohio, Hanson said.

The proposal is scheduled to be reviewed and approved by various intercollegiate committees in the upcoming months.

The first class of the newly expanded program is expected to take its seats in fall 2010.

Contact College of Communication and Information reporter Darren D’Altorio at [email protected].