Advertising & PR discussion pulled from Board of Regents

Monica Kast

Approval to merge the advertising and public relations departments with the communications department was pulled from discussion by the Board of Regents at its committee meetings on Friday.

A revised agenda was posted to the Board of Regents website before the meeting, with approval of the merger removed from the academic affairs committee. Originally, the academic affairs committee had “approval  to create the School of Communication through merger of programs in Department of Communication with Advertising, Public Relations and Popular Culture” listed as an action item.

At the meeting on Friday, David Lee, provost and vice president, briefly discussed the reason for the removal.

“We are withdrawing this for now,” Lee said. “We’ll have some further discussions,  but are not bringing it to the Board at this time.”

It was announced last semester the advertising and public relations departments would be moved to the communications department. Last November, Larry Snyder, Potter College dean, said the goal was to merge the departments for the Fall 2017 semester.

“If we can move it any faster than that, we will,” Snyder said at the time. “This is a process, though, and it’s going to take a good year to make this a smooth transition.”

According to the WKU 2016 Fact Book, in 2015 there were 97 students with a major in advertising and 139 students with a major in public relations. Together, the two departments make up 28 percent of the enrollment in the School of Journalism & Broadcasting.

In 2015, there were 253 students enrolled with a major in communications, according to the WKU 2016 Fact Book.

Other schools with nationally recognized programs in media have gone a different direction; Indiana University’s Media School offers journalism degrees and media degrees with concentrations in public relations or media advertising respectively, according to its website.

Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media Integrated Marketing Communications offers undergraduate degree programs and certificates concentrated for journalism and marketing tracks according to its website, but are also connected to mass media techniques and advanced technology.

Last fall, Snyder said by moving the advertising and public relations departments to the communications department, they would be “strengthening all those departments.”

Additionally, Snyder said as Loup Langton, director of the SJ&B, is stepping down as director this summer, it would be a good time to make the change as a new director is hired.

Helen Sterk, department head of communications, was contacted for more information,  but did not reply in time for publication.

Reporter Monica Kast can be reached at 270-745-0655 or [email protected]