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College of Information and Communications

June 2016

From the Dean . . .

No Tiene Un Solo Analfabeto

Fidel Castro told the United Nations General Assembly that his country would be the first in the Americas that would not have a single illiterate citizen — que no tiene un solo analfabeto.  The speech came in 1960, a year after Castro led the Cuban revolution.  The Cuban National Literacy Campaign began in 1961. 

Students as young as eight and into their teens were recruited as brigadistas, trained and sent out across the island nation to teach the campesinos to read and write. In addition to their teaching materials, the brigadistas were each given a lantern.  Cuba lagged as much in electrification as it did in literacy.

By the end of 1961, Castro declared the literacy campaign a success.  The country’s literacy rate had reached 96%.  Today, Cuba claims to be 99.8% literate, one of the highest literacy rates in the world.  The U.S. literacy rate is 99%.  Both figures are from the Central Intelligence Agency web site.

The purposeful creating of a highly literate society is impressive, regardless of what you may think of Castro, his regime or, for that matter, President Obama’s decision to improve relations with Cuba after more than half a century of animosity and isolation.  We can save Cuban-American relations, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis, the U.S. trade embargo, the Mariel boatlift, Elian Gonzalez, cigars, rum and baseball for another day.

I learned about the 1961 literacy effort by visiting the National Museum of the Campaign of Literacy in Havana in mid-May.  I’d accompanied USC president Harris Pastides for meetings at the University of Havana.  As Cuba opens up — it’s already happening — there is a value in developing exchange opportunities for students and faculty at the two universities.  We’ve invited a University of Havana journalism professor to visit us in the fall.  I hope we can take students there by Maymester 2017.

U of H’s College of Social Sciences and Humanities, somewhat like our college, includes faculties for both journalism — periodismo — and information science.  So, I asked to visit the literacy museum. 

After the success of the 1961 campaign, Cuba exported its literacy program to other countries in the Americas and in other languages under the title: “Yo, Si Puedo.”  The English version — “Yes, I Can” — ends with the encouragement to “Read Every Day.”

It’s exactly what we ask the children of South Carolina to do when they make The Cocky Promise during a Cocky’s Reading Express event — read every day to your mom, your dad, your brother, your sister, your cat, your dog.  “I promise, Cocky.”

Literacy is a universal asset.  Si, se puede.


Charles Bierbauer


College News . . .

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Cocky’s Reading Express launches crowdfunding campaign

Did you grow up in a family where reading was fun? Did that experience shape who you are today? Not every child has the resources needed to inspire a lifelong love of reading. But you can make a difference by supporting USC's literacy initiative, Cocky’s Reading Express ™. We’re raising money as the university’s first crowdfunding campaign to grow our program. Every dollar we raise during the current 45-day campaign will help us to motivate kids to read more and help us to distribute great quality books to families in need.

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Maymester classes take students around the world

Last month, two School of Journalism and Mass Communications classes had the opportunity to trek across the globe as part of the 2016 Maymester program. In Oman, associate professor Van Kornegay led 13 students through a whirlwind exploration of local culture and media practices. And in Germany, 21 students, led by senior instructor Scott Farrand and Dr. Tara Mortensen, hit the streets of Berlin and Munich to find one-of-a-kind stories.

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Student association receives top national honor in back-to-back years.

USC’s Library and Information Science Student Association (LISSA) has once again been named the American Library Association student chapter of the year. This is the second consecutive year they have won the award - and third total time.


College seeking two new staffers

Do you have a passion for fundraising or recruiting students? Do you know someone who does? The College of Information and Communications is hiring a new assistant director of development to play a pivotal role in growing the CIC’s scholarships, literacy efforts, Dean’s Circle and more. The CIC is also seeking a graduate admissions coordinator to recruit students and create strategies to meet enrollment goals. More information is available on the USC jobs website.

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Alumnus named dean at University of Oregon

Dr. Juan-Carlos Molleda is among an increasing number of School of Journalism and Mass Communications graduates who have landed significant administrative roles at leading universities across the United States. The 2000 SJMC doctoral alumnus was recently named the new School of Journalism and Communication’s Edwin L. Artzt Dean at the University of Oregon.


Congratulations to our May 2016 graduates

More than 300 students graduated from the College of Information and Communications last month. We wish them well in their future careers. Read the full list of May 2016 graduates here.