RIT's New School of Communication
by Kim Persky | published Oct. 8th, 2014
As of October 1, RIT’s former Department of Communication has been officially renamed the School of Communication. According to Program Director Patrick Scanlon, this nominal promotion is recognition of the progress the department has made.
As part of RIT’s College of Liberal Arts, the School of Communication now stands apart from the rest of the college, as all other programs are categorized as departments under COLA. The change from Department to School has been a long time in the making. A vision statement was written 11 years ago, but an official proposal was not made until 2011.
First introduced to RIT 30 years ago, Communications only had one undergraduate major. The School now offers three undergraduate majors and one graduate program, as well as an interdisciplinary minor in Health Communications.
A big part of the resistance to the name change was the fear that an upgraded name would mean requesting increased funding from the Institute. Scanlon and Dean of Liberal Arts James Winebrake had to make a convincing argument that they were seeking to be in a better position to receive outside gifts, particularly grants, and not looking for more monetary support or budget changes from within the Institute.
The department received a significant donation from an alumnus in the Advertising/Communications field last year, and Scanlon states that they are hoping a donor will eventually come along who wants the school to be named after them. They also plan to seek out grants from organizations such as the Annenberg Foundation, which is known for supporting journalism and communications.
The School’s Journalism program is making noteworthy growth. They have developed a working relationship with the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle – they even work together to run a summer program for high school students. The School of Communication also works very closely with the Photojournalism department in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences and with the College of Business on Advertising and Public Relations courses.
All of the hard work that went into the formation of the Communications programand the potential that Communications at RIT holds definitely warrants a rise in profile and recognition.