Department celebrates 25th anniversary

Lee Elliff Pound - Director of Alumni Association

Lee Elliff Pound – Director of Alumni Association

Jessica MacIntosh

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the department of communication has scheduled events for Homecoming weekend.

Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies and associate professor of comunication, said before the department’s creation, Richard Massa had been “dreaming” of a department of communications since he had been hired in 1972.

Stebbins said students also expressed a need for a department.

“At that time the journalism program was within the department of language and literature,” he said.

On May 2, 1980, the department of communications was established.

“It took Mr. Massa nearly eight years to bring his dream to fruition,” Stebbins said.

He said Massa signed a contract on the same day, which offered him a position as the first head of the department.

Dr. Allen Merriam, professor of communication, said in 1980 the department had seven faculty members – one in journalism and three in speech and language.

Within the first five to six years, Stebbins said the department did “remarkable things.”

The television station started in 1984, and the radio station began broadcasting on April 5, 1986, Merriam said.

At that time, additional faculty and staff members were hired.

“The enrollment numbers just skyrocketed,” Stebbins said. “There was a lot of momentum in the early days.”

On Sept. 24, 1992, Webster Hall was dedicated. Merriam said it was a major goal.

“It allowed for the first time for all our departmental activities to be under one roof,” he said.

“The opening of Webster Hall in 1992 really unified the department,” Stebbins said. “The facilities were fabulous, state-of-the-art. It became easier to recruit communications majors.”

Stebbins said before Webster Hall was opened, the department was spread all over campus.

“There wasn’t a single place that was home to the department,” he said.

He said there were offices in the mansion and in the area north of the mansion. Also, the newspaper was housed in Hearnes Hall for 17 years.

One year ago the department of communications and foreign languages split to form two separate departments. Now, it is known as the department of communication.

Dr. J.R. Moorman, head of the department of communication, said he has seen a growth in the number of majors in the area of journalism.

“I am very excited about that,” Moorman said.

He said with the newspaper and magazine, they are becoming more technological with more software and the Internet. The department is also continuing to build the public relations program.

“We’re actually trying to expand that program quite a bit,” Moorman said.

There have also been changes in the television area.

“We got our digital license approved so that we can go digital,” Moorman said. “We have a lot of digital cameras for example now.”

For the anniversary, several events have been planned by a committee of graduates of the communication department.

“We (the committee) put together what we think will be a fun evening for our graduates and our students,” said Lee Elliff Pound, director of the alumni association.

Starting at 7 p.m. Friday, there will be an awards dinner at the Ramada Inn. This will include the All-Alumni reception at 6 p.m.

On Saturday, the 2005 Hall of Fame inductees will be honored at a brunch at 9:30 a.m. in the Billingsly Student Center.

Webster Hall will be open for tours from 12:30 to 2 p.m Saturday.

Homecoming football game kickoff is at 2 p.m.

Pound said those alumni who have chosen to go to the game will sit together.

The department of communication anniversary dinner will be held at 7 p.m. in the Connor Ballroom of the BSC. Tickets are $5 for students.

“It’s going to be a fun event,” Pound said.

She said there are more than 125 people attending the dinner, but that number could rise by the end of the week.

She said Massa has put together a video that can be purchased by alumni.

“It names, I think, every alum from the field of communications from the year it was established,” Pound said.

Pound said she is excited about the communication anniversary.

“It’s great for Southern to be able to showcase these alums and to see where they are,” she said.

Moorman said he is excited about event.

“I’ve been getting calls every day from alumni who are coming or can’t come,” he said. “Those alumni are really looking forward to coming back to their alma mater. We don’t communicate with them enough, and so I am looking forward to this as the opportunity to reconnect with a lot of these people.”

He said it is also an opportunity for the alumni to give advice on how the department can become better.

“I am looking forward to hearing about that,” Moorman said.

Pound said it is going to be fun having everyone together, and she is excited to see people she went to school with.

“I haven’t seen [them] since 1986,” she said.

Merriam said celebrating the anniversary is a good idea.

“It’s a nice thing to celebrate milestones,” he said. “The 25th anniversary of the department is an important milestone for me in terms of recognizing our history and looking forward to the future.”