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From the Dean



Turn and face the strange”

David Bowie's 1971 release — it couldn't possibly have been that long ago — embraces change, even a bit defiantly.

Erik CollinsStill it will be a bit strange having Tom Weir sitting where Carol Pardun has for the past six years. And it will be strange not having Erik Collins where he's been since well before I arrived here 12 years ago. But these are some of the passing changes of the summer of 2014 in our School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Carol and Tom are swapping offices and changing roles, effective July 1. Tom becomes the school's interim director and Carol returns to the faculty. Tom, who headed the journalism program at Oklahoma State before coming here, shares his thoughts on the school and his role in this edition of eNews. Carol shared hers last month. She'll be on sabbatical revving up her research agenda before returning to teaching full time.

Erik is retiring, though he'll still be teaching for us come the fall semester. That's good for us and for our students. Erik's classroom vigor and rigor are famed.

How do we proceed from here? Tom agreed to step in for a two-year appointment after last year's director search did not produce a good fit for the school. We will resume the search next year coincident with our scheduled move to the school's new building.

Lance Holbert joined us this past January as the new associate director of graduate studies, but Lance has left for a position at Temple. I know Philadelphia. I've worked in Philadelphia. Why would you ... Well, never mind.

With so much change going on, Carol, Tom and I thought this a timely opportunity to share responsibility for the graduate program, assess it and then move forward. For the coming year, Andrea Tanner will serve as interim associate director of graduate studies, as well as coordinator for the Ph.D. and M.A. degrees. Tom Klipstine will serve as interim coordinator for students in our Master of Mass Communications (M.M.C.) program. Cecile Holmes will take over from Andrea as head of the undergraduate journalism sequence.

Change is inevitable. Sometimes it can be daunting and uncertain. In our case, it's mitigated by still having Carol and Erik around and in new roles. It's encouraging to have Tom, Andrea, Tom and Cecile step in to keep us moving forward.

We've now changed our undergraduate curriculum, we're changing leadership and we're preparing for a change of venue. David Bowie may find it strange. I find it stimulating.

Charles Bierbauer

Bierbauer signature



College News

Holland wins Southeast Emmy for student production

Ashleigh Holland won a Southeast Emmy in the College/University Student Production — News category for her piece "Empty Gun Holsters."

The piece was produced last fall for Carolina News and has already won two other awards: Television General News Reporting — first place at the Society of Professional Journalists awards and Best Student News Reporting — first place at the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas awards.

The Southeast Regional Emmy Awards took place on June 7 in Atlanta.

Holland is now a reporter at WSAV-3 in Savannah, Georgia.

Alumna helps bring children's books to Afghanistan

Laura Griner, MLIS '13, worked with friends to kick start the Afghan Book Collection, a Greenville, South Carolina-based nonprofit that is working to create a collection of children's books in the Kabul Public Library with the help of two Afghani translators. Griner, a middle school teacher of 15 years, joined the project because of her passion for literacy and is helping to raise the 28 percent literacy rate of Afghanistan.

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Gavigan promoted to associate professor

Karen GaviganDr. Karen Gavigan, library and information science, has been promoted to associate professor and granted tenure.

In addition to teaching, Gavigan conducts research in the use of graphic novels. Last year, she worked with Dr. Kendra Albright and juvenile justice youth to create a graphic novel, AIDS in the End Zone, to educate teens on the risks of HIV/AIDS. The graphic novel was published in May by the University of South Carolina Press through the Young Palmetto Books program.

Before joining the university in 2010, Gavigan served as director of the Teaching Resources Center at UNC-Greensboro, a school librarian, and as a children's services librarian and reference librarian in public libraries in North Carolina and Virginia.

Alumna starts clothing line, uses degree in new way

Karissa Lindsay, journalism '08, took a love of designing and making clothes and turned it into a career. Her clothing line, A Leap of Style, sells on Etsy, an online marketplace, and in local shops in Houston. Lindsay does all of her own graphic design and public relations work, citing her journalism background as giving her these necessary skills.

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Ranta chosen for Plank Center fellowship program

Jeff Ranta, instructor of public relations, has been selected for the Fellowship Program for Public Relations Educators at the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at the University of Alabama. As part of the fellowship, Ranta will spend two weeks this summer in the Connecticut offices of ESPN. The purpose of the program is to bridge the gap between education and practice, combining academia with real-world experience.




New beginnings in the J-school

By Dr. Tom Weir
Interim Director, School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Greetings! I am Tom Weir, Interim Director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina.

Tom WeirOur school was established in 1923 and enjoys a rich history of preparing our students for leadership and excellence in the ever-changing landscape that is mass communications. I am humbled and honored to lead our faculty and students ever onward as we embrace new challenges and seize new opportunities.

Our school has been nationally accredited for over fifty years and our curriculum remains a blend of liberal arts education and practical skills training. As always, the ingredients in that blend shift as needs and priorities evolve. With this eye toward continuous improvement in education and professional preparation, our faculty has recently completed a comprehensive curriculum revision. Our students will benefit from increased opportunities in skills courses, more online options, and fewer overall hours toward degree completion.

Classroom preparation remains but one piece of the puzzle. Opportunities beyond the classroom including internships, part-time jobs, community service, campus leadership, research and study abroad have become expected as students seek to maximize their college experiences.

Our faculty and student services staff continue to do an amazing job assisting students to reach their goals. Our percentage of freshman students returning to the School of Journalism and Mass Communications as sophomores is among the highest at the university. These numbers demonstrate the personal attention and commitment extended to every student.

Finally, we are eager for our move into a newly renovated state-of-the-art facility in the heart of the USC campus next fall. Our teaching, learning and research space will be doubled in an inviting and exciting 21st century communications environment. This new physical environment, coupled with an outstanding curriculum, exceptional beyond the classroom experiences and a top-notch faculty and staff will prepare each student to meet professional and personal goals, both those we know of and those yet to be imagined. I cannot imagine a better time to welcome students to learn, grow and prepare for promising futures than right now in the USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications.



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