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Meek School of Journalism and New Media Growing Substantially at Ole Miss

Photo by Kevin Bain
Photo by Kevin Bain

The University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media is one of the fastest growing schools on the university campus. As of Fall 2015, the Meek School has 1,322 students seeking a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism or a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC).

The Meek School, founded in 2009 from the outgrowth of the former Department of Journalism, has 505 Journalism students and 817 IMC students. Students can emphasize their journalism majors in broadcast, magazine, print journalism and public relations. Meek School Dean, Will Norton, credits the growth of the school to the faculty.

“The growth is because of the great faculty who have created an outstanding curriculum,” Dean Norton said. “The teachers care about their students. They love to help them succeed.”

According to data provided by the Assistant Dean, Charles Mitchell, the average growth of the school is about 25 percent per year, which triumphs other schools at the University of Mississippi.

“On the official census date for the Fall semester, the number of undergraduates was up 279 over the same date in Fall 2014,” Dean Mitchell said. “The rate is more than five new students per week during the 52-week year – one new student everyday.”

Deans Mitchell and Norton on graduation day.
Deans Mitchell and Norton on graduation day.

Although, both degrees offered at the Meek School are growing, the IMC degree is seeing substantial growth. In May 2014, the school had 515 students seeking a degree in IMC and by May 2015 the number jumped to 747 with a one-year increase of 45 percent.

“While Journalism is growing, the IMC program was the right new degree at the right time and has seen explosive increases,” Dean Mitchel said. “Today’s students are the most communication-intensive of any generation in the history of mankind. Feeding this demand for an informed, effective approach to information-and marketing- related communications is what the school does.”

There are only about six other universities in the U.S. that offers a Bachelor’s of Science in IMC. According to Dean Norton’s quadrennial review, the University of Mississippi has the largest IMC class. Journalism and IMC students should expect to take some classes together as IMC students learn to write, too.

Journalism students are required to have a minor in another subject. Likewise, IMC students are required to have a minor in business. Some courses the Meek School offers are Communications Law, Creative Visual Thinking, Mass Communication, Account Planning, Public Relations and Integrated Marketing Communications.

“Fifty-one students graduated in May 2015- the largest class yet (of IMC)- and another 30 percent or so plan to graduate in August. These students are accepting jobs with a variety of organizations, including the Los Angeles office of worldwide communications agency, FleishmanHillard; global company, Relativity Media; New Regional Planning; agencies in St. Louis; tech companies in Dallas; a web design and digital company in Memphis and other corporations, agencies and non-profit entities in Oxford and beyond,” the review said.

Scott Fiene, Professor and Program Director of IMC, said the program will see more growth in the future. The program is less than five years old, but the numbers keep increasing. The Meek School plans to add to the IMC degree soon through computer science and a specialty in Public Relations or Sports Promotion.

“We’re recognizing the importance of even more computer skills and are in the midst of adding a computer science sequence,” Fiene said. “We’re recognizing that students need the broad knowledge that comes with IMC, but that they also want to specialize in certain things.”

Behind the Meek School is the multitalented faculty that keep it running. Among the professors are best-selling authors, nationally known specialist, consultants and researchers. When they are not winning awards, writing books or doing interviews, they teach the next great class of alumni at the University of Mississippi.

“There are currently eight full-time IMC faculty members, plus several Journalism faculty members who teach IMC courses, and all have experience in the profession,” Fiene said. “The faculty leverages their connections to get visitors for classes and special programs.”

In the Fall 2015, the Meek School brought in professionals from companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Coca-Cola, Coors, J. Walter Thompson and Proctor and Gamble. According to Fiene, the school has some executives, that are professionals in their agencies, teach a class.

“It’s an incredible mix of talent” Fiene said.

UM Graduation. Photo by UM Communications
UM Graduation. Photo by UM Communications

Apart from the academic and growth success the Meek School provides for current students, alumni of the Meek School are finding success in their professions or in graduate school. As of the Fall of 2015, 35 students are enrolled in graduate school at the Meek School to earn their masters in Journalism or IMC. According to Dean Mithcel, Meek School alumni land jobs with newspapers, television, magazines, advertising and public relations jobs.

“Others are doing work such as managing social media and reputation management for hotel and restaurant groups,” Dean Mitchell said. “Some are working for nonprofits, community agents. Generally, they are succeeding in any position for which the main qualifications are accuracy, clarity and speed in messaging to the public.”

Emily Newton is a staff writer for hottytoddy.com and the editor of Experience Oxford. She is a recent graduate of the University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Emily can be reached at emily.newton@hottytoddy.com.

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