Communications Dept. recognized for excellence

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    By JANA L. COX

    BYU’s Communications Department has been recognized by the university as an award-winning program.

    Journalism, public relations and marketing communications will be added this fall to a list of BYU’s nationally recognized programs. The list will be included in the university’s informational brochure for incoming students.

    “They’re putting us on display … to represent the excellence of the whole university,” said Laurie Wilson, chair of the Department of Communications. “This is a representative of the kinds of work that are going on in other departments at the university.”

    Wilson said BYU’s Communications Department has been nationally recognized for establishing Newsnet, a university newsroom which integrates both print and broadcast journalism, Fall Semester 1997.

    The program is the first of its kind, she said.

    “(BYU is) the only university in the country who has managed to integrate a newsroom, and that’s the cutting edge of technology,” Wilson said. “That’s the way journalism is going and the whole profession agrees, but this is the only university that’s done it.”

    In addition, BYU’s public relations program has developed a reputation for excellence among professionals. Students are known for being well-prepared and productive, said Lee Bartlett, assistant vice president, public communications.

    According to BYU’s informational brochure, Bradley Public Relations, the BYU student-run public relations firm, was named the nation’s outstanding student firm in 1994-95. The award was presented by the Public Relations Society of America.

    BYU’s marketing communications advertising team won the 1998 National American Advertising Council regional competition and advanced to the finals, the brochure said.

    Troy Selk, an area coordinator for high school and college relations at BYU, said award-winning programs help prospective students make decisions about their education.

    “As we go out, in particular we try to tout some of the programs that kind of stand out in the university — communications being one of them,” Selk said.

    Jeff Tanner, associate dean of Admissions and Records, said BYU doesn’t make a practice of singling out specific departments in the university, but that some are inherently influential.

    “The College of Fine Arts and Communications has a tremendous impact,” he said.

    The Marriott School of Management and the BYU’s accounting program are among the university’s most influential programs. These programs have been nationally ranked by professional organizations, Tanner said.

    “I think anytime the university receives recognition on a national level, it gives credence to a program. It shows that acadamia is alive and well in that department,” Selk said.

    Though the communications programs are not systematically ranked, they have been praised by professionals and educators throughout the country, Wilson said.

    “We have had an accreditation report that told us we were one of the top three programs in the nation,” Wilson said. “I’ve had a number of professionals and academia alike tell me that we were one of the top programs in the nation.”

    Such programs bring national recognition to the university and inspire individuals to donate.

    “Every time we have an opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of the students in a specific department, or any time they receive that kind of recognition, it’s obviously a real boost to the funding,” said Jim Murphy, assistant dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications.

    Funding for the university comes through individuals, endowments, wills and grants, Murphy said. Often alumni or individuals with an affinity for a specific college are influenced by the quality of BYU’s programs and donate to the university, he said.

    “The people that we try to encourage to donate are people that have themselves made a good success of their careers in the communications industry,” Wilson said.

    The success of BYU’s Communications Department has stemmed from years of progress and internal improvements.

    “We’re always trying to fine tune the program to make sure it meets the needs of the students for when they leave here,” said Bobetta Powell, administrative assistant for the Communications Department.

    Powell said the programs are continually growing. By Fall Semester 1998, the application process will be even more competitive, she said.

    The influence of the Communications Department is far-reaching.

    “You can’t really go anywhere on campus or do anything on campus without seeing the influence of this college,” Murphy said.

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