State of the College Address
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Dean Loy Singleton
This past academic year was a year of extraordinary events and remarkable accomplishments for our College. Though last April’s storms are now six months past and recovery is well under way, we are all still coming to grips with that terrible tragedy. Your presence here and your countless efforts to help rebuild continue to slowly but surely return our community to normal. I am so proud of the ongoing efforts by our college’s faculty, staff, students and media professionals to assist in the recovery efforts in so many ways.
During the summer, Jim Oakley and his outstanding orientation staff advised more than 600 income freshman and transfer students – yet another record for our College. We started this academic year with nearly 2,900 students, another record in College enrollment. This includes about 2,500 undergraduates and more than 400 graduate students.
This enrollment growth continues to be spread across all the College’s academic units. It also means that this year alone College enrollment grew 7.5 percent, outpacing the University’s 5 percent increase. In fact, in the last three years, the College has grown 12 percent, which outpaced the University’s 10 percent growth over the same time. Our largest department continues to be APR with 1,133 majors, followed by TCF with 569, Journalism with 362, Communication Studies with 321 and SLIS with 278.
As enrollment increases, we must increase our faculty and staff to continue to provide our students a high-quality educational experience. That takes financial support from the University administration, and the provost continues to support us with funding for new faculty. This year the College conducted 15 full-time personnel searches, four of which were for new full-time faculty positions.
Additional searches allowed us to replace faculty who retired, as well as several internal administrative appointments. They include a new Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Student Services, Dr. Jason Black; a new director of the School of Library and Information Studies, Dr. Heidi Julien; a new department chair for Telecommunication and Film, Dr. Glenda Williams; and Dr. Andy Billings of Clemson University was appointed to the Reagan Chair of Broadcasting.
Several retirements of long-time faculty and staff include TCF Chair Dr. Gary Copeland, Dr. Margaret Dalton from SLIS, Forensics Director Dr. Frank Thompson, WVUA-TV’s Camille Shotts and Journalism’s Dr. David Sloan. We wish them all the best and say thank you for everything!
Last fall the University Board of Trustees approved the College’s plans for the Digital Media Center to be constructed across the parking lot from Phifer Hall. Earlier this semester, the Center’s steel I-beam skeleton was put into place. This state-of-the-art digital production facility will provide our College’s students and media professionals a true 21st Century digital platform they will use to create and distribute programming to the state and nation. It will occupy 30,000 square feet of space under the north Zone. It will be the new home for Alabama Public Radio, the Center for Public Television, WVUA-TV and athletic department digital production facilities. It is scheduled to open in about 18 months, and when we cut the ribbon we absolutely will have the best campus media production facility in the nation!
This summer the Board of Trustees also approved the purchase of radio station WHIL-FM in Mobile, extending Alabama Public Radio’s reach all the way from the Shoals to the Gulf, including the Biloxi, Mobile and Pensacola radio markets. The growth of Alabama Public Radio will provide students more opportunities for firsthand experience in news reporting and audio production.
Lastly, the College’s faculty, students and media professionals has a truly outstanding year in terms of national recognition of their research and creative activities, with publications and awards in every academic and professional unit of the College. From regional Emmys and Murrow Awards to a national PRSA Silver Anvil award and a national journalism education diversity award, as well as numerous scholarly publications, presentations and honors, the College of Communication and Information Sciences’ national reputation for high-quality scholarship, teaching and media production continues to grow.
All in all, the College has had a remarkable year and is headed in a very positive direction. I am proud of what our students, faculty and staff have accomplished, and we can all look forward to a very exciting year ahead.
Dean Loy Singleton
October 19, 2011