The Future of the JMC Department
As the end of the academic year is approaching, thoughts about the future of the Journalism and Mass Communication department started to cross students’ minds. Among those majoring or minoring in the field, there have been ongoing anxiety and frustration about the number of professors leaving.
The rumors about the decrease in the professionalism and the interest in the department started when the draft schedule for the Fall 2016 Semester was sent by email to the students. Seven out of the 12 courses offered did not have assigned professors. The lack of academic body gathered many negative comments from the current students. The future of the JMC department as a leading one at AUBG was also questioned.
“Throughout the four years I’ve spent at AUBG, I have seen the upwards and downwards of the JMC Department,” said Tsvetelina Miteva, a fourth-year JMC student at AUBG. “This last year has been the worst, at least in my opinion, especially after the leave of Melody Gilbert and Mark Wollemann, who had been offering two to three courses each. The amount and variety of courses diminished, the activities of the JMC clubs also went down.”
“When I entered AUBG I already knew that I would be majoring in JMC,” said Bojan Mircheski, a second-year student at AUBG, who said that he was impressed by the fact that the department was the best JMC department in Bulgaria for 2014. “Not only I felt as part of AUBG, but also part of the narrowed group of the JMC department,” he said.
“In 2015 many JMC professors left their positions and there were not a lot of courses offered which surely made many JMC students disappointed and left them questioning if they want to continue with the JMC Major,” Mircheski saidThe same goes for me. It was not the best department at AUBG that they used to have before, but one that many would consider changing,” Mircheski said.
For the Fall 2016 Semester the JMC department hired three new professors which will fill the empty “staff” places. One of them is Giles Timms from Wales. Timms immigrated in the United States in 2001 where he developed his love for graphics and animation. He will be teaching Visual Communications: Theory and Practice and Design and Layout starting from next semester.
The second new professor is Cyle O’Donnell and he will be teaching Multimedia Journalism, Introduction to Video Journalism, and Documentary Filmmaking classes. Graduate of the Indiana University School of Journalism, he received his master’s degree in International Communications and Arts Education and is expecting to obtain a second one in Intermedia from the University of Maine in May 2016. He has been travelling around the world and has created a photo gallery containing 120,000 images from 37 countries.
Last, but not least, the JMC department will have Laura Kelly, who will be teaching Writing for Media and Digital Storytelling in Fall 2016. Kelly was the Chair of the AUBG JMC Department from 2002 to 2004. Then she returned to the United States, where she started to work in the sphere of arts management as a culture columnist and a digital storyteller. But now, she will come back to teaching.
“I think that students of all majors – not just JMC – are steadily losing their desire to achieve something and are instead content with just graduating while doing as little as possible,” said Sava Stoyanov, a second-year student. “This may be observed more in the JMC department now, however, because of the faculty situation – with some of the JMC veterans leaving in the past couple of years, new professors have come, with some staying for just one year – which makes students increasingly uneasy about the future of the department and thus of their major.”
Leonard shared that what the department is still trying to achieve is the golden mean between theory and practice. Therefore, she believes that the three new professionals who are going to join next semester will be a great addition to the department. According to Leonard, their various backgrounds and the fact that they are already full of ideas on how to introduce new workshops and developments is a sure sign for the their enthusiasm and gives hope to many JMC students.
In terms of achieved goals for the past academic year, Leonard believes there is a room for improvement in the communication between the faculty and the students, so that there are no misconceptions anymore. This is why she is planning to implement more advising meetings, workshops and social media posts for the upcoming academic year. What is more, students will be introduced to the new media studio settled in BAC basement, which offers many new equipment opportunities for shooting pictures and video production.
“In general, I am not an optimist, but I really believe that with the new selection of professors for the next academic year and with more enthusiasm by JMC clubs’ members, the department can stand on its feet and prove its long-time existence as an entertainer and driver of change”, said Miteva.
“The new professor recruitment made my, and I believe many other’s, beliefs and interest in the JMC department,” said Mircheski. “New staff, mostly oriented in the visual and production field, is coming on campus in September 2016, with a hope that they would bring back the sparkle that the JMC department once had.“
There would be more changes in the department next year and AUBG Daily will keep you updated as the new semester begins.