Two SJ&B majors to move schools


Monica Kast

The advertising and public relations majors will be moving from the School of Journalism and Broadcasting to the communications department, according to Potter College of Arts and Letters administrators.

Larry Snyder, Potter College dean, said the goal of the transition will be for the two departments to officially move into the communications department for the fall 2017 semester.

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

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.

“If we were going to make the change … it would be better to do it now, rather than later,” Snyder said.

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

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

Helen Sterk, department head of communication, said they would be “starting the conversations this academic year” about how to successfully move the two departments. Sterk said she was “very excited about the possibilities” that would come from the move.

“I think that Dean Snyder saw this as kind of a great opportunity that was going to serve both PR and advertising, and communications,” Sterk said. “What we’re discovering with the students in [communications] is that they need more skills development, so it would be a great benefit to communications to have PR and advertising join us.”

Sterk also said there would be benefits for public relations and advertising by giving the students in those majors “access into the communication classes.”

Both Snyder and Sterk said the skills development of the advertising and public relations departments would benefit the communications department.

“We’re moving from positions of strength,” Snyder said. “This lifts the ceiling of opportunity.”

Langton said he found out about the move last month from Snyder. He said it was a “surprise” to find out that advertising and public relations would be moving to the communications department, and he didn’t have details about what the move will look like.

“I think that the success or non-success of it will depend on the details,” Langton said.

Langton said he was unsure of how the change would affect the advertising and public relations departments.

“I don’t have the details,” Langton said.

Langton also gave a written statement to the Herald outlining his thoughts and concerns with moving advertising and public relations, which can be viewed in full online.

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

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.

Connecting advertising and public relations to the School of Communication will have some effects on the programs. Snyder said there would be some changes in curriculum offered over time, and those changes would be “worked out over the next year or so by faculty.” He said students already in the program shouldn’t be concerned about curriculum changes.

“No student will be left out in the cold,” Snyder said.

Reporter Monica Kast can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @monicakastwku.