UI College of Communications shopping for a new name

UI College of Communications shopping for a new name

URBANA – See if you can guess what academic study these names describe:

College of Global Relationships & Relevance.

College of Global Kinship Intercourse.

College of Information Illumination.

If you guessed sociology, international studies or computer science, you're way off.

The College of Communications at the University of Illinois is shopping for a new name, and the suggestions have been pouring in from students, faculty and alumni.

The five names under serious consideration are much tamer, with words like "journalism," "advertising" and "media." But many in the initial round were "way out there," said Dean Ron Yates, who will make the final selection.

"The idea is to get everybody in the title without making it so long that people can't remember what we're about," he said. "Everybody has their own favorite."

The impetus for the change came from the campus level. The Department of Speech Communication, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, shortened its name to Department of Communications. That discipline now deals more with interpersonal communication, Yates said, and most speech comm departments across the country have already made the switch.

Former UI Provost Jesse Delia, who had been head of that department, felt the College of Communications should change its name to avoid confusion.

Some faculty were upset, Yates said, arguing that an entire college should not have to change because of one department.

But Yates sees it as an opportunity. With the rise of the Internet, blogs and other new media, and curriculum changes within the college itself, it was time to update the name to help redefine the college's mission, he said.

"I know that people think it's terrible we have to change our name. But it's an opportunity to really use our name to demonstrate what it is we do here. The fact is we study the media, we study advertising, we study journalism," he said.

A 14-member committee of students, faculty and staff, including some alumni, is overseeing the process. The committee took suggestions for about a month through ballot boxes in Gregory Hall, collecting more than 150 ideas. The panel narrowed that list to 17, then ranked those to get the top five.

An e-mail survey was sent to faculty and staff this month, and alumni will be contacted for input sometime in August, said Susan McKenna, director of publications.

Committee Chair Teresa Savage, an associate dean, said the process was designed to be "transparent. We tried to make it very inclusive."

Savage, who received her master's degree from the college and has worked there since 1993, admits she is sentimental about the old name.

But other UI colleges have adopted new names to reflect new responsibilities, she noted.

The College of Commerce and Business Affairs was shortened to the College of Business, while the College of Agriculture went the opposite direction, becoming the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences – ACES for short.

On that note, Yates said some people like College of Mass Media because of the cool acronym – COMM. Others feel "mass media" is an archaic term referring to newspapers, television and radio and doesn't encompass newer media, McKenna said.

College of Connected Global Media sounds more high-tech, but it did not make the final cut. Neither did Media, Advertising, Journalism, Cinema or Cultural Studies – MAJC, or "magic," for short.

The college is already on its fourth name. It was the School of Journalism from 1927 to 1950, then became the School of Journalism and Communications, then the College of Journalism and Communications until its current incarnation in 1968.

It contains two departments – journalism and advertising – as well as the Institute of Communications Research, WILL television and radio and the Division of Broadcasting, and a program in media studies.

The college is in the process of absorbing cinema studies from LAS to create a Department of Media and Cinema Studies.

The undergraduate program is also expanding from two to four years. The first sophomores were admitted last fall, and the first freshman class will enter in fall 2008. Enrollment is up to 1,000 students and will top out around 1,200, "twice as big as it's ever been," Yates said.

The college is also spending $700,000 to create a new student advising and job-placement center in the basement of Gregory Hall.

"These are huge changes," Yates said. "Because we're changing so quickly and doing all these things, this is the perfect time to change the name."

Here are the five names under consideration for the UI College of Communications:

College of Journalism, Advertising and Mass Media

College of Journalism, Advertising and Media

College of Journalism, Advertising and Media Arts and Sciences

College of Mass Media

College of Media Arts and Sciences

Alumni will have a chance to vote on these names, and suggest others, in an online survey beginning next month. Many alumni will be contacted by e-mail, and a link to the survey will be listed in next month's "Alumni News," the college newspaper.

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