Carter aims for top 10 with five-year plan
by Jonathan Dozier

Leading the drive to top-10 national ranking for the School of Journalism and Mass Communications won’t be easy – but the destination isn’t necessarily too far away, says Dr. Shirley Staples Carter, the school’s new director.

“The advertising and PR programs are already ranked in the top 12,” said Carter, who ran the Elliott School of Communications at Wichita State University in Kansas before arriving at USC in July.

She said the school currently has a five-year plan to reach this goal, coinciding with her term as director, which is also five years.

“We are probably among the top 20 journalism and mass communication programs in the country,” she added. “That’s in terms of the size of the program as well as the quality of the program.”

Carter says raising the school’s research profile and attracting funding for endowed chairs will be important milestones on the way to breaking into the ranks of communications programs.

Another landmark achievement that benefits the school is Newsplex, a $2 million multimedia newsroom completed last fall by Ifra, the global news publishing in partnership with the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies. Carter says the school will build a reputation at Newsplex for training journalists of the future,both professionals and students, in the techniques and strategies of convergence.

Students, of course, are central to the school’s fortunes.

“Continuing to attract top-quality students,continuing to produce highly sought-after graduates” are also how the professional and academic communities judge the school, she said.

Record enrollment –
But according to the September issue of Editor & Publisher magazine, public funding for journalism education is spiraling downward even as more top students are considering journalism as a career.

Carter says that because USC’s journalism program is “enormously good,” it faces a need to cap admissions in the face of rising student demand. About 1,500 undergraduates are enrolled in the public relations, advertising and journalism sequences, a level where Carter would like to stabilize enrollment.

The school is seeking to hire four faculty members, three in advertising and public relations and one in electronic journalism. Two will be for new positions and the other two for vacancies, including the spot to be left by departing associate professor Lynn M. Zoch.

Mass Communications Week –
Carter has also announced Mass Communications Week to promote visibility of the school on campus and in the community next spring. Tentatively scheduled for the first week of April, the seminars, workshops and panel discussions will highlight student and alumni achievement and faculty research. Associate professor Jon P. Wardrip is leading the project.

Accreditation –
All these changes will unfold as the school prepares for an accreditation site visit during the spring 2005 semester, which Carter says is both “a huge deal” and nothing to have serious worries about.

“Our last site visit was six years ago,” Carter said. At that time, the school was given a clean bill from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

The endorsement is a credential deemed vital among most top journalism programs.

“We do have to prepare for it, and there are always concerns,” said Carter, who led the Norfolk State University program to its first-ever accreditation four years ago and currently sits on the ACEJMC board.

“But as far as the quality of the education we provide our students, it’s still excellent.”

In general, most of the strategies and programs in the offing are simply considered best practices among to prated mass communications programs, she said. All the school has to do, in theory, is follow the plan – a road map to the top 10.

It won’t happen in a day or a year, and Carter places state budget cuts at the top of her list of challenges in following the plan. But she rates the school’s chances as very good at getting where it wants to go when students, faculty and alumni are given active roles.

“I think there’s lots to be excited about,” she said. “I’m anxious to get out there and meet new alums and find out more about this great state.”

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Page 1
  • Carter aims for top 10 with five-year plan
  • Speelmon reaches high down under
  • Bussell thrives on others' expectations
  • Page 2
  • The Dean speaks...writes
  • Federal grant sends Campbell to Harvard
  • Thanks to Dean's Circle
  • Page 3
  • Professors passion for learning, will travel
  • Inaugural Sossamon scholarships helps Gaffney student
  • Page 4
  • Holmes, Farrand help churches get more communication savvy
  • From journalist to street vendor and back again
  • Page 5
  • Keeping in touch online
  • Alumni Notes


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