The Communications Media doctoral program has drawn twenty-one students in its first cohort, greatly exceeding its preliminary estimate of students. This number was well above the sixteen students that officials expected to be enrolled. Dr. James Lenze and Dr. Mark Piwinsky are cocoordinators of the program.
“The program’s budget was determined by predicting the number of students that would be involved and the number of credits that would be taken,” Lenze said. “Both of those numbers have already been surpassed, proof that the PhD is developing quite well. The estimates for the number of students to be recruited for next year have also been exceeded.
“We have really appreciated that the students, in particular, recognize that we are working hard to keep the lines of communication open in all possible ways,” Lenze said. For example, Karl Roeper, a student of the current doctoral cohort, stated that good communication between faculty and students makes the work much more manageable because the schedule is more accommodating to nontraditional students who have to work full time and treat their education as a second job. They must juggle these commitments to their degree with their family lives, and the doctoral professors make this task as simple as they can.
“There is no question that the addition of the doctoral program to the Department of Communications Media is going to change the culture of the department in some ways,” Lenze said. “The department already has a clear focus on good teaching and production skills, but with the addition of the doctoral program, faculty members will be stretched to do more research, but this can only add to the quality of our program for undergraduates as well as our doctoral students.”
As the enrollments grow and develop, the degree will continue to improve in quality as well as quantity, Lenze said. After five years, Dr. Lenze expects to have established a pattern for bringing students into the doctoral program with a stable enrollment of between seventy and eighty students. By then, the first wave of students will have already graduated with their PhDs and the new doctoral students will have more interaction with the undergraduate program. Lenze also hopes to see a longer list of electives offered and every member of the faculty involved and engaged in the degree program in some way.(Content by Zachary Salopek)