From the Director

Issue: 

Keeping Up With the Rapid Pace of Change

Recently, we surveyed our graduating class of 2013—approximately 120 former students. They are now four years in to their careers, and only six of them have a recognizably journalistic job as a reporter, editor, or producer. The vast majority have jobs that didn’t even exist 10 years ago: social media managers; community coordinators; multi-media producers. And more. Moreover, they work not only for news organizations, TV stations, and PR agencies, but they also work for a myriad of organizations-from government agencies and non-profits to start-ups and major corporations.

David Ryfe
David Ryfe, Ph.D., DEO,
School of Journalism & Mass Communication

To put it mildly, things are changing fast in the communication professions! J-schools cannot hope to keep pace with this change. Compared to industry, the academy works at glacial scales.

If we are to adequately prepare our students for the professional world they will inhabit, our curriculum needs to be more nimble and responsive. We are working toward this goal in a number of ways. For instance, we have developed an assessment plan that builds innovation and experimentation directly into our curricular learning goals. And, we continuously invite industry leaders to visit campus so that we can learn how things stand out in the field.

The School’s Professional Advisory Board has begun an initiative about which I am especially excited: funding undergraduate “boot camps.” These two- to three-day, intensive sessions will teach students valuable skills that are, perhaps, too narrow or too new to insert into a course. These might include SEO optimization, as one example, or advanced training in the use of spreadsheet programs or google analytics. Having such skills on one’s resume may be a difference maker in our students’ job market.

Our efforts seem to be paying off. Our graduating class of 2017 has a placement rate of 95 percent, meaning that all but six of our graduates were employed or in graduate school six months post-graduation. I want to speak to those six students!

In the meantime, we will continue the hard work of keeping our curriculum responsive and relevant.

With best wishes,

David Ryfe, Ph.D. DEO
School of Journalism & Mass Communication