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The Mass Communication major began in the fall of 1988. There were thirteen students in the first Radio Management class, who enrolled as mass communication majors. The department was originally combined with speech and theater. Students in the early major took a broad range of courses from speech, English, art, computer science, sociology and philosophy. As a result of the first program review, courses outside the major were gradually eliminated. The core of the mass communication major was strengthened by adding courses specific to the learning needs of a student interested in the media field.
In 1992, members of the department built the first television studio. The original studio was housed in the costume shop of the old Compton building. The control room was right next door with only one electrical outlet. There was no air conditioning, and no ventilation.
There were two people hired to fill faculty positions in 1988. By 1994, there were three members of the Mass Communication faculty. The student numbers continued to grow despite the early recession of the 1990s, and a campus that was facing retrenchment by the middle of that decade. It was recognized as the Department of Mass Communication by the academic year 1999-2000.
By spring 2000, student numbers of majors reached an all-time high of 211. As of 2012, the number of faculty in the department increased to five with several part-time adjuncts.
Recently the Mass Communication Program moved into a new, state-of-the-art facilities. Gone is Tawes Hall, which was adjacent to Compton. In its place is the new Gira Center. The new facilities include:
- A high-definition television studio and control room
- A video demonstration studio
- A 30-seat audio/video editing lab
- 10 individual audio/video editing bays
- New equipment checkout facilities
- A screening room
- A green room
- Dressing rooms and a makeup room
- A student resource center
- Offices for student producers
- And much, much more...