The School of Communications (SOC) is the third largest of Howard University’s 13 academic schools and colleges. In the 2014-2015 academic year, SOC enrollment was 1,002. For more than 44 years, the School has trained journalists and media communication professionals through five of the most premier advertising, audio production, journalism, media management and public relations programs in the world. SOC graduates are known at the local, national and global levels for their leadership within and across diverse communities through communication research, professional practice, innovation, job creation, social justice, and service via cutting-edge knowledge, skills and technology.
The School of Communications has a legacy of excellence demonstrated by its track record of graduating the most African-American communications professionals; a growing reputation as the place for the best students who wish to study communications; and an active and engaged Board of Visitors (BOV), that which assists the school with fundraising efforts. The SOC grooms students in an environment that promotes high expectations, demands rigorous study, introduces innovative learning experiences, exposes students to outstanding media professionals, and offers them opportunities to participate in programs that illustrate the profound impact true leadership in communications can have on society. A large percentage of our alumni are distinguished journalists and broadcast professionals.
Critical to the School’s culture of excellence is its success at maintaining a cadre of outstanding full-time and adjunct professors who are renowned for their outstanding contributions to their respective fields. They are Pulitzer Prize winners, Fulbright recipients, prominent researchers, renowned authors, award-winning journalists and other media professionals.
In 1971, the same year the university began broadcasting WHUR-FM (a commercial radio station); the School of Communications was founded with the leadership of the first dean Tony Brown. In 1974, the School established WHBC-AM, a student-run radio station that now broadcasts 24 hours a day on-line at www.whbc1830am.com. Under the leadership of the late Dr. Lionel Barrow, the school prepared for its first accreditation, and WHMM-TV (now WHUT-TV) began broadcasting and serving as a training ground for students. In 1982, the Department of Journalism began publishing a weekly newspaper, The Community News, and the entire School of Communications relocated to the renovated C. B. Powell Building, former home to Freedman’s Hospital built in 1909.
Under the leadership of From 1985-1993, Dr. Orlando Taylor, served as dean from 1985 to 1993of the School. With his leadership, the Walter Annenberg Foundation donated a $2 million endowment gift to begin the Annenberg Honors Program. The school also established the Howard Journal of Communications; NewsVision, a student-produced television news magazine under the direction of the Department of Journalism; and CapComm Lab, a student-run advertising and PR agency, were established in the school. The Departments of Journalism and Radio, TV and Film (RTVF) were each accredited by ACEJMC. Howard University led and hosted the newly founded Black College Communications Association, which was housed in the SOC for five years.
In 1993, Dr. Jannette L. Dates became the third dean and served in this capacity until 2013. Under her leadership, the Departments of Journalism and Radio, Television and Film were awarded ACEJMC re-accreditation in 2009. Time Warner invested $2 million (that was matched by the University, totaling $4 million) to establish the Time Warner Endowed Chair in the Department of RTVF. Bill Duke, Suzanne DePasse and Cathy Hughes have served as professionals in the Time Warner endowed chair. In 2000, three new school-based media began: GlasshouseRadio.com began broadcasting as the first student-run online talk radio program, District Chronicles, a weekly community-based newspaper supervised by Dr. Lawrence Kaggwa was established, and the Department of Journalism started BlackCollegeView.com, which has become the Howard University News Services. The news services is part of the capstone class, which covers Washington, D.C. and produces news that distributed through the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a consortium of 200 black news organizations.
In the 2013-14AY, Dr. Gracie Lawson-Borders was appointed as the fourth dean. The year was filled with renewed energy with the launching of new degree programs following the university PCAR (President’s Commission on Academic Renewal) initiative and the restructuring of the school. Our new undergraduate departments of Media, Journalism and Film, (MJFC) and Strategic, Legal and Management Communication (SLMC); as well as graduate departments of Communication, Culture and Media Studies (CCMS) and Communication Science and Disorders (COSD) welcomed their first students of the class of 2017. In 2014, Radio One announced a gift of $4 million, a search was launched for the John H. Johnson Endowed Chair, and the first four awards of $2,500 for BOV scholarships.
Changes in programs
The Howard University School of Communications (SOC) is focused on digital communication and preparation of students for work in a multimedia environment. In 2013, SOC implemented its reorganization in line with Howard’s Presidential Commission on Academic Renewal (PCAR) and the Committee on the Future of the School. We reorganized into two undergraduate departments, Media, Journalism and Film (MJF), which includes a MFA graduate film program; and Legal and Management Communication (SLMC). We also have two doctoral graduate programs: Communication, Culture and Media Studies (CCMS) and Communication Sciences and Disorders (COSD), which includes a master’s of science degree. The MJFC and SLMC undergraduate programs offer bachelor degrees in our major concentrations, journalism and online media, audio and TV production, public relations, advertising, and media management.
In 2014, we implemented an Interdisciplinary Studies Program in which undergraduates, with a faculty advisor and committee, can design an interdisciplinary plan of study using our accredited concentrations across the school. For example, in a digitally enhanced environment this affords students the opportunity to combine a public relations concentration with broadcast production or media management with advertising. Students apply to the program during the second semester of their sophomore year. The student led, NewsVision news show returned after several years in hiatus in 2014-2015. It is aired on Tuesdays and Thursdays in partnership with Howard’s WHUT, PBS-TV station on campus.
Strengths of the program
We consider our strength is in providing a rigorous academic program, internships and experiential experiences for our students. We have a faculty that traverses the ranks from assistant to full professor, many have professional media backgrounds and active scholarly production in noted journals including our, Howard Journal of Communication. In 2014, we were ranked LinkedIn No. 4 for placement of media professionals. We are proud of this ranking and have alumni dispersed around the country in prominent communication and media positions from CNN to ESPN to CBS, FOX, Google, Edelman and Saatchi and Saatchi.
We believe the rigor and preparation in our academic programs prepare students well for the professions. Our annual Career and Internship Fair held each fall continues to attract top organizations and students from neighboring universities. The fair plays a pivotal role in placement of our students in conjunction with faculty and the Career Center.
We continue our focus on providing students with up to date technology to develop their skills and preparation for the industry. Our Tech Center houses all of our audio and broadcast equipment that students use for course work and projects. We have seven computer labs, and are working on a proposal to add another lab. We have Studio A that is used for teaching, training and broadcast production. Our Screening Room West (SCRW) is also used for teaching, production and screening.