By Kayla Regan ’17
After some reflecting and critiquing of the program, Communication professors at Merrimack decided that the department name of Communication Arts and Sciences wasn’t doing it anymore. This fall semester, the department launched their new name: Communication and Media.
“Communication Arts and Sciences wasn’t sexy and didn’t describe what we actually do,” said Professor Jake Turner, chair of the department.
The four existing faculty members in the Communication department — Lisa Perks, Andy Tollison, Jake Turner and Melissa Zimdars — decided it was time to adjust the name to make the program more marketable and appealing to students.
With that being said, the department has struggled to recruit first-year students into their program. By adding “and Media” to the title, the program hopes to open a new door to students who have an interest in media. The department has many engaging media classes such as TV Criticism, Sports Communication and Humor and Media. Some students did not realize these classes existed in the Communication program with the old name.
There are also media extracurricular activities that supplement the Communication department that this new title addresses; film club, The Beacon and the new radio station initiative, WMCK. The addition of media in the department’s title speaks to these facets that many communication students are involved in as well.
Communication and Media brings slight changes for Communication students. They no longer choose a concentration in either Interpersonal, Mass, or Organizational Communication like they have in previous semesters. Now, they have less structure and more free choices.
Students can create the path through the curriculum that is ideal for them instead of spending time checking off several course requirements or as chair, Jake Turner describes it, “This allows you to paint your own picture of what you got out of this major rather than having it described and prescribed for you.”
This new freedom for Communication students is projected to help graduates be competitive in the job market.
Associate Professor Lisa Perks said, “Prospective employers will understand Communication and Media better than our old name and more clearly see that our students have cultivated skills in media,” Perks said. “This decision was student-centered.”
With these new adjustments being made, the department wants students to know that they are not changing what they are doing. They are not altering the course curriculum that previously existed, rather they are advertising the media options that the department has.