By Nicole Webb
LINCOLN UNIVERSITY—The Lincoln University’s Center of Excellence in Mass Communications recently revised its existing department curriculum with hopes of enhancing its students’ media literacy and understanding of digital media convergence.
On January 10, 2014, the revision of the department’s curriculum was completed by the department’s chair, Carmen Manning-Miller, along with the department’s faculty Kenneth Nagelberg, Nicole Files-Thompson, Jamila Cupid, and Cheryl Renee Gooch.
“The marketplace has changed. Media has changed and our current curriculum is an archaic way of viewing and producing mass media product,” stated Manning-Miller, the department’s chair. “All media has converged and the industry is now digitally dependent.”
The purpose of the new revisions to the department curriculum is to prepare students for the ever changing and transitioning times of the industry as technology continues to advance.
“We want to produce the best of the best out there. Granted the graduating seniors will not get the chance to reap the benefits of the new revisions, but the incoming class will definitely be able to experience it,” stated Nicole Files-Thompson, an assistant professor in the department.
University faculty members approved of the new Mass Communications curriculum’s revisions at the university’s faculty meeting March 4.
“I think this new program will also, [in addition to the new liberal studies program], be another innovative way that we can use academics as a recruiting asset,” stated Dr. Robert Millette, chair of the Educational Policies Committee.
Currently, the department is structured so that students can receive either a Bachelor of Arts and/or a Bachelor of Science degree in Print and/or Broadcast Journalism, with some experience in public relations and marketing and advertising.
The new curriculum, however, will include two new tracks: digital communication and strategic communication. The new tracks will include 11 existing courses offered through the department and 8 new courses, along with 15 collective electives, some currently existing.
“The strategic aspect of the new tracks will more so focus on the public relations and campaigning aspects of the industry while the digital communication will more so deal with the production side of things,” state Manning-Miller.
Existing students of the department stated the recent revisions are “a long time coming.”
“We’ve waited a long time for this,” stated graduating senior London McAuley. “I wish I would’ve been here to reap the benefits of the recent curriculum changes, but I think it will help bring us to where we need to be.”
“ I think that it’s great. I want to go into public relations and now that it’s somewhat being incorporated heavily as a part of the curriculum I believe will attract more students,” said current junior Brandi Wardlow.
The department seeks to continue to work with its existing faculty members, but if monetary funding becomes available, the department will take the steps necessary to hire additional qualified faculty members.
“We hope to get more faculty members, but how quickly we grow is an economic consideration,” stated Manning-Miller.
The department is currently seeking accreditation from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, ACEJMC accreditation. The revisions for the new curriculum were considered carefully to assure that the department’s new program would meet the standards of the accrediting organization, which currently accredits existing HBCUs Howard University, Hampton University and Florida A&M University.
The university Board of Trustees is currently reviewing the revisions for the new curriculum. The new program will be put into full affect in the Fall semester of the 2014-2015 academic school year, with equivalent courses being offered to current seniors and juniors to assure accurate graduation schedule.