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What you need to know to apply to the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: June 13th, 2022 by ldrucker
An outside shot of Farley Hall with students entering the building.

 

Are you or someone you know thinking about applying for admission to the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media?

On July 1, we encourage you to begin the application process.

Students will apply online at https://admissions.olemiss.edu/

It’s a simple process. Here are the steps:

  • Students apply online, pay the application fee, or submit an ACT/SAT fee waiver.
  • They must supply transcripts from high school and/or all colleges they have attended.
  • While the university is currently considered test optional, students are encouraged to submit ACT and/or SAT scores for consideration for some scholarships and placement in some courses.
  • Once all needed documents are received, the Admissions Office will communicate the admissions decision to the student.

Jennifer Simmons, an assistant dean of the School of Journalism and New Media, said she encourages students to apply even if they are unsure if they plan to attend.

“Students who apply to the UM School of Journalism and New Media will get hands-on, real-world experiences in their major courses that they can carry forth into the workforce,” Simmons said.

Fun classes await.

“There are opportunities to become involved with study abroad, internships, HottyToddy.com, the Student Media Center, and UM Athletics opportunities the first year,” Simmons said.

Students who attend other schools may wait until they are upperclassmen to be considered for similar opportunities.

Simmons said students can become involved in activities their freshman year that could catapult them into the careers of their dreams when they graduate.

Apply online today at https://admissions.olemiss.edu/

Andrea Hickerson Named Dean of School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: May 20th, 2022 by ldrucker
Andrea Hickerson, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina, as well as associate dean and professor, is the new dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media. Hickerson is a respected researcher, educator and administrator whose vision for the school involves preparing students to succeed in an evolving modern media landscape and deal with ongoing technological and social changes. Submitted photo

Andrea Hickerson, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina, as well as associate dean and professor, is the new dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media. Hickerson is a respected researcher, educator and administrator whose vision for the school involves preparing students to succeed in an evolving modern media landscape and deal with ongoing technological and social changes. Submitted photo

Respected administrator brings expertise in 21st century practices, research into deepfakes

OXFORD, Miss. – Andrea Hickerson, an internationally renowned researcher, educator and administrator, is joining the University of Mississippi as dean of the School of Journalism and New Media.

Her appointment was approved Thursday, May 19 by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning board of trustees at its May meeting. Hickerson begins her new role July 1.

“The appointment of Dr. Hickerson resulted from a national search that attracted a well-qualified pool of applicants,” said Noel Wilkin, UM provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

“She is an accomplished researcher and scholar with experience studying deepfakes and issues facing international journalism. She is also an accomplished administrator, having served as a director at two universities.”

Hickerson earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and international relations at Syracuse University, master’s degrees in journalism and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas, and a Ph.D. in communication at the University of Washington. She has served on the faculty at both the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of South Carolina, where she most recently was director of the USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications, associate dean and professor.

The new dean said she is “incredibly positive” about coming to Ole Miss and Oxford.

“I love the setting and the history,” Hickerson said. “When I visited campus, I felt a great energy and sense of mission from faculty, staff and students. I was excited by their drive to serve local, state, national and international communities in creative ways.

“I thought we would make great partners and thrive off of each other.”

Hickerson has been a principal investigator, co-principal investigator or investigator on projects generating more than $1.6 million in external support from a range of sources that include the National Science Foundation, U.S. State Department, philanthropic foundations and news networks.

Hickerson said her vision for the school is to prepare students to meet the challenges of evolving modern media and deal with ongoing technological and social changes.

“A short-term goal is to enhance the things the school is already great at, like supporting student media and creating opportunities for experiential learning,” Hickerson said. “To do this, I look forward to listening to and learning from faculty, staff, students and alumni.

“I’m especially interested in traveling across the state and meeting current and future employers of the school’s graduates.”

Hickerson said she wants to make sure that the school is setting students up not just for their first job, but for successful careers.

“I also want to make sure our curriculum is well-rounded and has the right blend of skills classes and topical courses so our students can engage critically with key challenges facing citizens, especially those with backgrounds who differ from their own,” she said.

A long-term goal of Hickerson’s is to increase the school’s expertise and reputation as central to community problem solving.

“A pet peeve of mine is when people equate communication with ‘messaging’ or ‘publicity,’” she said. “Communication experts know how to listen, assess needs, contribute to solutions and communicate them to public and private audiences.”

The incoming dean said she hopes to accomplish this goal by prioritizing interdisciplinary projects and research, including grant-funded research.

“I also hope to achieve this through proactive programming and events that bring experts from different fields to campus to address a common problem,” she said. “I believe that if we take this initiative – creating spaces to discuss and iterate on problems – we can easily demonstrate our centrality to its analysis and solutions.”

A prolific scholar, Hickerson is the author or co-author of more than 25 peer-reviewed journal articles. She has also been a presenter at numerous national and international conferences, as well as at professional development training seminars.

Hickerson said her strong background in research – particularly on deepfakes, manipulated videos that can make it appear that a person said something that they did not – should be especially useful in her new role.

“My research on deepfakes is an example of how journalism and communication can be paired with tech fields to solve a community problem; in this case, fighting misinformation,” she said.

“Also, at the heart of this research is a deep commitment to verification. No matter how we challenge and create new storytelling forms, verification is a central practice.”

Hickerson has received many awards for her teaching and research. One of the most meaningful for her is the University of South Carolina’s Educational Foundation Research Award from Professional Schools. The award is one of the university’s highest research honors.

“I’m proud of it because it recognized how my research impacted the overall practice of journalism, particularly through my deepfake research,” she said.

Hickerson said she is also proud of and grateful for being asked to serve on the advisory board for a community-based research project concerning media portrayals of race in Rochester, New York, in 2018 and again in 2021.

“Both the results of those reports and the community members working on it taught me to question traditional journalism practices and to reconsider who tells community stories and even the definition of ‘newsworthy,’” she said.

Her professional activities and memberships include the editorial board for the Journal of Global Media and Diaspora, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the International Communication Association, and the International Association for Media and Communication Research.

Hickerson will bring “a thoughtful and measured approach” to leading the school, said Debora Rae Wenger, interim dean and professor of journalism.

“Dr. Hickerson appears to think deeply about the role that communication can, does and should play in our society,” Wenger said. “Under her leadership, I think we can reimagine the ways in which our school can contribute to the big conversation taking place around credibility, authenticity and accuracy of news and information in today’s tech-mediated world.”

Wenger said Hickerson’s plans to take the time she needs to understand the culture and to build strategically on past successes are also welcome.

“It’s always good to bring in fresh ideas and new approaches,” she said. “Dr. Hickerson’s previous administrative experience offers us the opportunity to grow.”

Meet some of the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media’s outstanding 2022 graduates

Posted on: May 13th, 2022 by ldrucker

Journey to Commencement

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media congratulates the Class of 2022. Here are a few profiles of some of our outstanding graduates. The students shared thoughts on what drew them to UM, what they learned on their Journey to Commencement, their favorite classes and professors, and their future plans.

Click the images below to read their stories.

By LaReeca Rucker

First generation DeSoto campus grad will join advertising firm after graduation

Posted on: April 28th, 2022 by ldrucker
The graphic features a graduation cap and a picture of Benjamin Wilson, an IMC student, who will be the first in his family to graduate from college.

When Benjamin Wilson, 24, graduated with a degree in integrated marketing communications (IMC) from the University of Mississippi DeSoto campus in Southaven, he became the first person in his family to earn a college degree.

The Pontotoc native who lives in Southaven with his wife is just one of the school’s 2022 graduates who shared his Journey to Commencement.

“I am the first person in my family to ever go to college,” he said. “People did not expect me to go to college and definitely did not expect me to be successful.”

Wilson said he took a year off after graduating high school to work and save money for college. He earned an associate’s degree from Itawamba Community College, then skipped another year of school to get married, work, and save more money before returning to earn his bachelor’s degree.

“When coming to Ole Miss, I was undecided in my major,” he said. “I was interested in business and marketing. I had never heard of IMC until my advisor at Ole Miss told me about it. I instantly knew it was the major for me. It opens up career opportunities in business, marketing, communications and more.”

Benjamin Wilson While much of Wilson’s time in college happened virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has served as a member of the Gamma Beta Phi Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success. He has also earned a spot on the Chancellor’s Honor Roll each semester.

Wilson said his favorite class has been IMC 205: Writing for Integrated Marketing Communication, taught by his favorite instructor, Patricia Overstreet-Miller.

“It was one of the first IMC classes I took,” he said, “and it assured me I was in the right major,” he said.

Wilson said his biggest personal and educational challenge during college was prioritizing.

“I have worked full time all throughout my college career,” he said. “Juggling my job, school, and being a husband has been very challenging. I have had to sacrifice some of my social life and ‘fun time’ in order to prioritize schoolwork. While it is not fun at the moment, I know it will all be worth it when I graduate in May.”

Wilson will work as a junior SEO specialist at Neon Canvas – an advertising firm in Memphis.

“I did a summer internship with the company last summer, and they offered me a full-time position after my internship,” he said.

Overstreet-Miller, an instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, said Wilson is a born leader, who is talented, hard-working and committed.

“Like others among the regional students, he balances personal responsibilities and a full-time job with a heavy class load,” she said. “From the beginning, I’ve seen both talent and character in Ben. He will make us all proud.”

Wilson’s advice: “I think the number one piece of advice I would give is to not be afraid to put yourself out there – even if you are more reserved or introverted,” he said. “College is a difficult task, and it is really hard to go at it alone. I would encourage everyone to surround themselves with a good support system – family, friends, and especially other students in your major and classes.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

In a world of pandemic problems, some workers value remote options

Posted on: March 23rd, 2022 by ldrucker

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted and changed our lives.

But for some, having the option to work remotely and by teleconference is one of the positive changes.

University of Mississippi graduate Emmy Stephens, a former IMC student and marketing associate for Georgia Banking Company in Atlanta, said remote work has been beneficial for employees in her marketing department.

Emmy Stephens, a former IMC student.

Emmy Stephens, a former IMC student.

“It’s taking a lot of things virtual, so that’s beneficial in a lot of ways,” she said. “My boss works two hours away sometimes, and we can still get together and do Zoom meetings and stuff, which has been super helpful.”

That means clients are also doing business remotely.

“A lot of our search engine optimization . . . has been key to reaching our clients and customers and pushing social media,” said Stephens who began her college career seven years ago after touring and falling in love with the Ole Miss campus.

“I kind of wanted to go somewhere not in Georgia,” she said. “That’s where I’m from. I went to (Ole Miss) to expand my horizons and go somewhere new with new people, and I think it’s the best decision I made.”

Stephens was initially undecided about her studies before realizing her passion and goals involved integrated marketing communications (IMC) and journalism. She loved the hands-on projects and opportunities the major offered.

“(IMC) just fit what I wanted to do . . ,” she said. “It’s so broad that you can go into so many fields, and it helps in so many ways.”

To read the full story, visit the Oxford Stories website.

This story was written by Gabrielle Fairey for Oxford Stories.

Journalism is a family legacy for University of Mississippi grad, now New Orleans reporter and anchor

Posted on: March 17th, 2022 by ldrucker

There is no such thing as a typical day for Peyton LoCicero Trist, breaking news reporter and fill-in anchor at WGNO, an ABC affiliate in New Orleans. When her alarm goes off at 2:30 a.m. each morning, she never knows where the day is headed.

“I can be out talking about the Mardi Gras horses up for adoption and then have to run over and talk about a murder case that could be a possible serial killer,” said LoCicero Trist. Each day can require five to 10 live shots.

LoCicero Trist developed a love for journalism at an early age. Her mother worked as an anchor in Baton Rouge, her hometown, and some of her favorite childhood memories began with her mother waking her up in the early hours of the morning and taking her to the studio, where she saw the ins and outs of newsmaking.

Peyton LoCicero Trist on the set of WGNO. Submitted photo.

Peyton LoCicero Trist on the set of WGNO. Submitted photo.

Her days with her mother at the studio ended when her parents moved and started a business in Destin, Florida, right before she began middle school. While Hurricane Katrina made 2005 a bad year for most Louisianans and Southerners, it was a good year for LoCicero Trist.

“For me, it was such a blessing because I was struggling to make friends in Destin,” she said, “and all of the sudden, all these refugees came to my school, and they were feeling just as displaced as me.”

Carley Keyes, one of LoCicero Trist’s sorority sisters and friends, met her in college.

“She was so personal and bubbly,” said Keyes. “She always had a smile on her face and always seemed to find the good in everything.”

Today, she is known as “Positive P” by her coworkers. She has learned the hard way that someone within the station has to be willing to rally others. In challenging times, it is important to have a voice of reassurance.

Choosing the University of Mississippi was a no-brainer for LoCicero Trist. She attended Junior Preview Day and fell in love with the campus and Oxford culture. She served as an anchor for NewsWatch, the campus television station, and wrote for HottyToddy.com.

You can read LoCicero Trist’s full story at OxfordStories.net.

To learn more about the School of Journalism and New Media’s journalism and IMC programs, visit our website.

This story was written by Deja Errington for Oxford Stories.

Aman scores position with Dallas Cowboys Creative Media Department

Posted on: March 2nd, 2022 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media graduate who wasn’t afraid to tackle what Ole Miss Sports Productions threw at her has scored a position with the Dallas Cowboys.

When Madison Aman was in high school, she photographed and videoed local sporting events. That helped her land a job with UM’s campus television station NewsWatch and Ole Miss Sports Productions.

Today, she is an editor and producer for the Dallas Cowboys Creative Media Department, which journeys with the team to document their activities and tell their stories.

The Dallas native, who studied broadcast journalism with a minor in digital media studies and an arts emphasis, was a sports anchor at NewsWatch for about a year. She interned with Ole Miss Sports Productions from 2015-to 2019 gaining experience that led to her current job.

Madison Atman videos an athlete.

Madison Aman videos an athlete.

“After I graduated, I was able to get a job at the Dallas Cowboys (through former Ole Miss and journalism school alum, Dave Kennedy),” she said. “I started out in the broadcast department, where my main job was to create several documentaries about former Dallas Cowboys players.”

After her first Cowboys season ended in 2019, Aman began creating what became an Emmy-nominated documentary that she continued working on throughout the initial wave of COVID-19 in 2020. She remained in the broadcast department until the summer of 2021 when she was promoted to the newly-created Creative Media Department as an editor and producer.

Aman just finished her first season in the new position.

“I was able to shoot on the sidelines at the games, travel with the team, and continue to create storytelling videos for the Dallas Cowboys’ social media accounts,” she said.

During the season, a typical week can be busy. Aman shoots practices and creates videos for the Cowboys’ Social Media Department. She also helps produce sponsored videos at different locations throughout Dallas.

Their work all leads up to promoting the big game on Sunday. If it is a home game, the department of six (including Aman) travels to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Aman said she typically shoots the game from the sidelines and hands footage off to one of the editors to quickly post to social media. Once the game ends, they start over working to create the best content they can leading up to the next game.

Madison Atman today works for the Dallas Cowboys. Here she stands in front of a blue wall.

Madison Aman today works for the Dallas Cowboys.

“One of the reasons I picked this career was that I am able to do something different each day, whether that be shooting practice, events, etc., and/or editing a video for social,” she said. “Having a career in sports is such a fast-paced environment, but it provides the opportunity to meet so many new people and experience so many new things.”

Aman said her time at Ole Miss Sports Productions prepared her for working in real-world situations in this field.

“I love being able to tell the story of the person underneath the jersey and below the lights,” she said. “It’s such a unique opportunity and a big privilege that most do not have, and I am grateful for it every day.”

Her advice to other professionals in the field is to take care of yourself mentally and physically.

“You don’t have many chances to catch a break during the season, but it’s important to take care of yourself so that you can continue to stay fresh and create the best content possible,” she said.

Another tip: appreciate each moment.

“I think a lot of people in this career field get so used to being so close to the action, that it can become very ‘normal,’” she said. “But each week and each game is an experience that so few people in the world get to have. We have the opportunity to change and inspire others through our work and on such a large stage as well.  It’s important to never lose touch with that and to always stay focused.”

Aman said student journalists should stay focused and shouldn’t get discouraged.

“The sports media world can be quite intimidating,” she said. “But don’t lose sight of your goals and dreams for yourself. I would’ve never been where I am today if it wasn’t for believing in myself and pushing myself to meet the goals that I have.”

She also advises students to get out and shoot games at any level.

“It’s important to have experience and practically required to have a reel in addition to your resume,” she said. “In high school, I was able to shoot our football and basketball games. Through that, I used that experience and footage to help me get jobs at NewsWatch and Ole Miss Sports Productions.”

Debora Wenger, interim dean of the School of Journalism and New Media, agrees that it’s important to gain experience in your field while in college.

Madison Atman today works for the Dallas Cowboys is seen shooting video of an athlete.

Madison Aman, who today works for the Dallas Cowboys, shoots video of an athlete.

“One of the things about pre-professional programs like ours is that employers will expect you to already have had some experience doing journalism or creative work before you get hired,” she said. “Our Student Media Center and other experiential learning opportunities help you build the kind of portfolio that can really help you get that first job.”

Wenger said dozens of our students work or intern with UM Athletics every year.

“The students who love sports broadcasting, marketing and production get an incredible experience when they go to work for Athletics, and we offer many additional opportunities for students who are passionate about sports.”

Micah Ginn, associate athletics director of Sports Productions and Creative Services, said student workers from journalism and integrated marketing communications (IMC) have been an important part of what they do.

“We’ve had students plug in during their undergrad years and carry that over into graduate assistantships,” Ginn said. “We’ve also had students work here and use the experience to quickly land a job after graduation.

“We provide real-world opportunities for our student workers with the goal being that we are able to do more for our sports programs with the extra help, and the students develop skills that make them confident and ready to enter the workforce.”

Aman shot local football games for NewsWatch and continued to add to her reel, which allowed her to shoot larger events at Ole Miss Sports Production (OMSP).

“Through OMSP, I was on the sidelines shooting football games and shooting practice, which led me to the job I have today,” she said. “I’d tell students that they don’t always have to start at the top pro/collegiate level, but can start at the bottom with high school sports and work their way up. Don’t get discouraged and never lose focus on your dreams.”

For more information about our programs, visit https://jnm.olemiss.edu/

Morgan named fellow at Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics

Posted on: February 8th, 2022 by ldrucker

Dr. R.J. Morgan, an award-winning teacher and director of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association, has been named a Fellow at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss, according to chairman Charles Overby.

His role at the center will focus primarily on scholastic media, journalism education and related topics. He will also coordinate scheduling and operations for the center and function as a liaison between it and the School of Journalism and New Media, where he is an instructional associate professor.

“R.J. has the practical experience, enthusiasm and engaging personality that students love,” Overby said. “He will help energize the Overby Center, and he will help promote First Amendment values for our next generation.”

R.J. Morgan speaks at a podium.

R.J. Morgan.

Morgan is a nationally-recognized speaker, judge and scholar in the field of high school journalism. He has served as MSPA director since 2013 and recently launched the Integrated Marketing Communication Association, a national high school media/marketing organization housed at the University of Mississippi.

He sits on executive/advisory boards for multiple scholastic media organizations, serves on the national certification committee for the Journalism Education Association, and was named Awards Chair for the Scholastic Media division of the Association for Educators of Journalism and Mass Communication last fall. He received the Elizabeth Dickey Distinguished Service Award from the Southern Interscholastic Press Association in 2018 and earned Master Journalism Educator status from JEA in 2020.

“I’ve been involved in student media in one role or another since I was in the eighth grade,” Morgan said. “The time I spent on my high school and college newspaper staffs was easily the most influential and rewarding experience of my educational career, so being able to help create those same powerful learning environments for successive generations of students has become my life’s work. As a lifelong Southerner and a strong First Amendment advocate, I am beyond excited to continue these efforts through the Overby Center.”

Among other university appointments, Morgan is a member of the School of Journalism and New Media’s executive committee and leads the school’s Talbert Fellows honors cohort. He was elected to the University of Mississippi Faculty Senate in 2021.

Morgan has a Ph.D. in K-12 education leadership from the University of Mississippi. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Mississippi State University and began his teaching career at Starkville High School, where he received several honors including STAR Teacher, Third Congressional District Teacher of the Year and the Paul Cuicchi Innovative Educator Award.  He also advised the school’s newspaper, yearbook and broadcast programs and was thrice named MSPA Adviser of the Year.

Morgan spent 16 years covering college sports for The Associated Press and has written pieces for Religion Unplugged, Sporting News magazine, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal and the Memphis Commercial Appeal, among others. He is currently working on his first book-length project about the folk and civil rights movements of the early 1960s.

Tupelo Regional Airport employee soars to new heights with IMC degree

Posted on: February 4th, 2022 by ldrucker

Students at regional campuses are recognizing the value and versatility of IMC and journalism programs

The sky’s the limit for Justin Lee Gary, an integrated marketing communication (IMC) student who attends the University of Mississippi’s Tupelo campus and works as a media intern for Tupelo Regional Airport.

The New Albany native is just one example of students at UM’s regional campuses who are using the versatile IMC degree to pursue their dreams.

Gary, a junior, has a knack for writing and film that began while attending a community college.

“I started working with the film class and really gained a niche for filmmaking,” he said. “My classmates worked on professional film sets with famous actors and professional film crew from all over the country. It was exciting to take someone’s story, turn it into a script, and then watch it on the big screen.”

Justin Gary stands in front of a plane at Tupelo Regional Airport.

Justin Gary stands in front of a plane at Tupelo Regional Airport.

Gary said an instructor there told him about the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media’s IMC major to further his studies.

“It was the best decision I’ve ever made,” he said.

Some of his favorite classes have been IMC 205: Writing for Integrated Marketing Communications and IMC 306: Internet Marketing Communications.

“While there is a lot of writing with some of the classes, it is by no means difficult,” he said. “The instructors on campus are amazing at teaching the concepts in a way that you can understand them. They really help you explore your creative side so you can find your own writing style. So, don’t be afraid to express yourself. It not only helps you to stand out, but also find an awesome job.”

Gary has two jobs at Tupelo Regional Airport. While one is in airfield operations, he also works as a media intern for the airport.

“I also help coordinate Ole Miss’s sports teams when they are traveling with Delta, United, or another airline,” he said. “Believe it or not, the job actually has a lot to do with marketing. In aviation, public perception is everything. It involves a lot of research and planning to understand what market the airport caters to, and my IMC classes have definitely taught me how to carry the airport’s mission statement through social media and other mediums.”

After graduating, Gary said he hopes to work as a media manager or art director for a marketing firm.

“My dream job would be marketing a major airline like Delta or United,” he said, “but I would honestly be happy working for any company that tries to benefit others.”

His advice for anyone thinking about majoring in IMC is to develop an interest in writing, and never stop being you.

Patricia Overstreet-Miller, an instructional assistant professor of integrated marketing communications with the School of Journalism and New Media who is focused primarily on the regional campuses, said regional IMC graduates have entered a wide variety of job fields, including digital and data management, marketing for nonprofits and local companies, sales, entrepreneurship, public relations for small and large firms, and have even worked for the U.S. Army.

“Because the skills they gained with an IMC degree are highly transferable, they are able to move within a number of different fields, even as they stay local,” she said. “The IMC degree is one of the most flexible and adaptable offered at the university level and is well suited for individuals who want to stay within the state, as well as those able to move nationally and internationally.”

Overstreet-Miller hopes more students who are considering pursing a degree like Gary will visit the regional campuses.

“At the regional campuses, we have some students who are the first in their families to graduate from college, who often come from more rural areas of the state, and who are deeply Mississippi-based,” she said. “They are also highly diverse and representative of many of the minority populations of the state.

“By reaching beyond Oxford, Ole Miss has benefited communities and individuals they might not otherwise have reached and thus helped ensure a stronger future for the state as a whole.”

Debora Wenger, Ph.D., interim dean of the UM School of Journalism and New Media, said regional campus students are doing amazing things.

“Our regional campuses give us an opportunity to work with students who make our integrated marketing communications program richer, more relevant, and more inclusive,” she said. “These students are inspiring — often balancing full-time jobs and families — yet, they have the drive to earn a degree and make a difference in their communities. Kudos to them.”

Overstreet-Miller said Tupelo Regional Airport will be one of the UM program’s IMC 455 clients this year and probably next year as well, largely because of Gary.

“They are looking to brand themselves and become more connected to the community,” she said. “This will be one of the most interesting and challenging clients we’ve had so far.”

University of Mississippi integrated marketing communications program turns 10

Posted on: December 5th, 2021 by ldrucker

Young program, one of university’s largest, thanks to passionate faculty and alumni

Scott Fiene remembers watching the first handful of integrated marketing communications students walk across the commencement stage in 2013, completely unaware that in less than a decade, he would be watching hundreds of IMC graduates cross the stage each year.

The University of Mississippi‘s IMC program began with 51 students in the School of Journalism and New Media in 2011, and has since boomed to just under 1,200 enrolled.

The unprecedented growth is thanks in large part to the passion of the faculty members and IMC professionals who take students out of the classroom and into the ever-changing world of marketing and communications.

Archive Photo: Sports marketing professional Scott Pederson talks to students in an IMC Sports Marketing intersession class in Farley Hall. Part of what has made the Ole Miss IMC program so successful in its first decade is the ability to bring passionate practitioners into the classroom. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Archive Photo: Sports marketing professional Scott Pederson talks to students in an IMC Sports Marketing intersession class in Farley Hall. Part of what has made the Ole Miss IMC program so successful in its first decade is the ability to bring passionate practitioners into the classroom. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services.Passion for the Work

Debora Wenger, interim dean of the journalism school, was the administrator tasked with being the “paper pusher,” as she describes it, shepherding the program through the creation and approval process, but she credits Fiene with being IMC’s greatest advocate and promoter on campus. Fiene was assistant dean of curriculum and assessment for the program during its unprecedented growth.

“Scott really nurtured it,” she said. “The program grew because of Scott’s passion and dedication. He has incredible enthusiasm for the program and his passion is infectious. Students would take his class and then switch majors because he made it so engaging for them.”

Fiene passes that credit on to the faculty the program has been able to assemble over the past decade.

“Our faculty really care and put students first,” Fiene said. “I don’t recall sitting down and saying, ‘This is how we’re going to grow, and this is the experience we’re going to deliver to these kids.’

“A lot of it is simply the attitudes of the people we hired who have had very successful careers and now want to teach because they have an absolute passion for this.”

Archive Photo: Students take notes during a lecture in Robin Street’s IMC 491 class. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Archive Photo: Students take notes during a lecture in Robin Street’s IMC 491 class. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services.

The passion for students is evident. Even on sabbatical, Fiene finds himself following his graduates as they enter the job market and move into leadership positions around the country.

Jackson Sepko, a senior IMC major from Collierville, Tennessee, first encountered the IMC faculty’s enthusiasm the spring before his freshman year. After his tweet about Ole Miss baseball went viral within the Ole Miss sports online community, he received a direct message from IMC professor Debbie Hall asking if he was an IMC major.

Sepko had already signed up to be an IMC major, but it was a series of continued positive, affirming and proactive interactions like the one he had on Twitter that gave him the confidence to pursue more and more competitive opportunities. During his freshman year, Hall encouraged Sepko to pursue a PGA internship reserved for juniors and seniors.

“Every single professional opportunity I’ve had has been because of an IMC professor,” Sepko said. “Once a professor understands a student’s passions, they plug them into the classes and experiences and introduce those students to the people who are doing it in the real world.”

This semester, Sepko is applying his IMC experience as a digital media marketing assistant for the Ole Miss Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Clare Combs, a 2021 IMC graduate from Austin, Texas, is a community manager at Likeable Media in New York. Combs recalled the way Hall, her professor and academic adviser, made her feel welcome on the first day of class. Running late, Combs rushed to class through the rain and then slipped and fell the moment she arrived in class.

“I was so embarrassed,” Combs said. “But Mrs. Hall immediately directed the class’s attention to herself so I could quietly make it to my seat. After class I thanked her, and she told me, ‘I never want my students to feel anything other than great in my class.’”

After that, Combs took one of Hall’s classes every semester and relied on Hall as a mentor and sounding board while looking for her first job after graduation.

Dennis Irwin teaches students. n 2011, the Integrated Marketing Communications program at #OleMiss began with 51 students. Today, the program is one of the largest at the university, with just under 1,200 students enrolled.

Dennis Irwin, associate director of marketing and brand strategy for the University of Mississippi, teaches students. In 2011, the Integrated Marketing Communications program at #OleMiss began with 51 students. Today, the program is one of the largest at the university, with just under 1,200 students enrolled.

Real-World Application

In its early days, the IMC program took a few plays out of the journalism school’s playbook. The faculty frequently invites successful practitioners to campus to expose students to real-world work while providing networking opportunities with the industry’s best.

Similarly, the faculty places an emphasis on turning classroom theory into practical application.

“We send students out to work with clients in the community,” Fiene said. “We’ve taught campaign classes and we partner with organizations in the community so our kids can put together a full IMC campaign and pitch to clients.”

IMC faculty members also encourage students to engage in the many media opportunities on campus, including the Student Media Center and the program-run HottyToddy.com, where many students get daily multimedia publishing experience.

“These students are very well-rounded – they learn writing, design, market research, campaign building,” Fiene said. “But it’s those real-life experiences students get that matter, so that when they get a degree it’s not just academic. It has real-world relevance.”

Bright Future

Jason Cain, who succeeds Fiene as the program’s leader, is excited about IMC because the future of business, media and communications is all intertwined.

Whether preparing for careers in advertising, journalism or PR, graduates are finding themselves more and more in integrated roles, Cain said.

“This is where the action is in a lot of ways,” he said. “While more traditional departments are grappling with how to address the future within their silos, IMC is ready-made for straddling all these different channels.

Cain, who joined the faculty in 2016 as an assistant professor of IMC, said he hopes to continue to emphasize the practical side of the program by bringing graduates back to campus so that students can see how they are using their degrees in a professional environment.

The program continues to expand its intersectional role, offering specializations in fashion, health communications, magazine publishing, media sales, public relations, social media, sports communications and promotions, and visual design.

“I think we have a good core group of faculty with a cool skill set,” Cain said. “I know that we can take a healthy program and start diving in a little deeper. We can take a decade of wisdom and filter that back into the course work.”