Friday, August 19, 2022

UM Integrated Marketing Communications Program Grows to 500 Students

Meek School of Journalism and New Media created emphasis just three years ago
The University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media’s undergraduate program in integrated marketing communications has swelled to more than 500 students since the course’s first classes were taught in the fall of 2011.

Photo by Robert Jordan
Farley Hall houses the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. / Photo by Robert Jordan

At the start of 2011 fall semester just 80 undergraduate students were majoring in integrated marketing communications, but that number quickly multiplied to reach the 500-student milestone this spring.
Will Norton, dean of the Meek School, said the program has succeeded in part because of the strong industry connections and expertise of program director Scott Fiene and the other members of the faculty.
“Scott Fiene and his faculty colleagues truly know integrated marketing communications, which draws on many fields of study,” Norton said. “They all have a very strong professional network for placement in internships and jobs and the professional opportunities for graduates are broad.
Fiene said the growth has been “phenomenal” and is a testament to the value of the degree.
“It’s a really solid degree,” Fiene said. “It’s an integrated marketing communications degree, but it also comes with a minor in business administration. In the industry, there’s a major need for graduates from a program like this, but there aren’t a lot of undergraduate programs of this kind, nationally.”
Recently, 50 students graduated from the program, which is the largest class yet for the new major.
The undergraduate program puts a strong emphasis on writing, with students taking both integrated marketing communications and journalism courses. Public relations, advertising, market research, account planning, communications law and other similar courses round out the requirements. Accounting, economics, management and business communication are required for the minor in business administration.
“The business minor resonates with parents,” Fiene said. “And there is incredible cooperation with the business school. Our students are required to take their classes, and some business students are required to take our classes.”
Also, a master’s degree track in integrated marketing communications enrolls more than 20 graduate students.
“Integrated marketing communications is a great fit within the Meek School of Journalism and New Media,” Fiene said. “Both majors are about communication, storytelling and content. Stories can be told through the media, and also via brands, customer experiences and many other things. Our approach is very holistic.”
The journalism school’s alumni base has been supportive of the program.
“We hear journalism graduates say they wish there had been something like this when they were in school here,” Fiene said. “It’s marketing communications, but it’s also media/journalism and business. It’s kind of a hybrid of many different things.”
Though the program has grown, it still retains a much smaller feel. Many classes have fewer than 30 students, which makes for an optimal learning environment. Five full-time IMC faculty, several journalism faculty, and a number of instructors and adjuncts teach in the program.
“We’re proud of achieving the milestone of 500 students so quickly, but it’s not about the numbers,” Fiene said. “Both degrees – journalism and integrated marketing communications – are about educating tomorrow’s leaders in the standards of excellence and the pursuit of meaningful careers.”
– Michael Newsom, Ole Miss Communications

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