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College of Information and Communications

  • Tom Reichert in front of Davis College

Four-hundred ninety-two

That’s how many students were part of my latest challenge — online teaching. 

COVID-19 meant going above and beyond to mitigate budget concerns and keep things running as smoothly as possible, and everyone did their part. Staff members became adjunct instructors, faculty members helped students navigate mental health issues and many of us took the plunge into online teaching for the first time. 

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious. Thankfully, I had colleagues like Jeff Williams, Jeff Salter, Van Kornegay, Augie Grant and my teaching assistants to help me learn the ropes. 

After successfully teaching nearly 200 students in my fall Principles of Advertising and Brand Communications class, I breathed a sigh of relief. Then spring rolled around and I found myself teaching it again — this time with more than 300 students. 

I wasn’t alone. Most of our faculty members were either teaching online or simulcasting their courses for the first time (managing both online and face- to-face, akin to double duty) while dealing with the personal and family challenges the rest of the country was facing as well. 

Last year was tough. But I want to acknowledge how much we accomplished despite everything. Here are a few highlights: 

Academics. We educated 1,800 majors, 600 minors and 500 graduate students – 567 students graduated. We held more than 5,000 advising appointments and connected more than 400 students with employers at the career symposium. We launched new minors in social media and sports media as well as a new master’s degree and certificate in data and communication. And we expanded our MMC degree to an online format. 

Awards and accomplishments.

There were too many accolades to list, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the researchers who won Breakthrough Awards from the university — assistant professor Vanessa Kitzie and Ph.D. students Travis Wagner and Denetra Walker. Nicole Cooke, our Augusta Baker Chair, won a social justice award from the university. And the iSchool rose in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. 

Fundraising. Alumnus Ken Baldwin gave us yet another generous gift to support our business and financial journalism initiatives. And we met our goal of raising $25,000 for the new CIC Student Experience Fund.. 

Diversity. Not only did we finalize a historic 4+1 degree program with Claflin University, we also approved a college-level diversity plan to guide our future efforts. The iSchool launched a certificate in equity, diversity and inclusion. And in the fall, we’ll welcome four new hires — the best among over 200 applicants nationwide — whose expertise focuses on ethnicity and race at the intersection of data, media and society. 

If this seems like a lot, remember that it’s only a snapshot of what we achieved last year. I’m proud of the many ways our team here at the college came together to help our students, support each other and continue working toward our mission. 

And we couldn’t have done it without your support and generosity. We know you’ve had your own challenges during the pandemic. Please reach out if there is ever anything we can do to help you or if you need a spot in an upcoming section of Principles of Advertising and Brand Communications — I know the professor. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.