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School of Communication looks forward to new heights

Lamposts leading up to the swings of Redbird Plaza with Fell Hall looming in the background

Redbird Plaza and Fell Hall on the campus of Illinois State University

Where do we go from here? Executive Director of the School of Communication Stephen Hunt is looking forward to seeing the school soar to new heights in the upcoming years.

Hunt first joined the Redbird family in 1998 as an assistant professor and the co-director of the “basic course” program (COM 110) for the School of Communication. In 2015, Hunt began his current role and has helped the School of Communication become a leader on the Illinois State campus.

“This school has a tradition that has been around for a long time, and it’s one of the things that attracted me to the position,” Hunt explained. “During my 20 years here, personnel has changed but the culture has remained solid. That’s really cool because there is that core commitment to what we do.”

At the root of discipline lies the core value of service, and the School of Communication has been a leader in civic engagement from local to national levels. For years, the School of Communication has played a major role in setting a positive institutional campus climate through collaborative efforts with other Ilinois State schools and departments, specifically through civic engagement. Civic engagement is one of the university’s core values given in its strategic plan.

“We have incredible students, faculty, and staff committed to what we do, and wonderful alumni who are engaged.”

These efforts have pushed the School of Communication into the forefront of Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State which focuses on scholarship, leadership potential, innovation, and engagement. The school is aiming to further exemplify scholarship and leadership potential moving forward.

“We are working to support faculty and student scholarship because we need more support of that,” Hunt explained. “We want to get people to conferences and get them the funds they need to conduct research that they want to do or to do the creative projects that they find important. We want to support leadership in all forms among students and faculty.”

Ribbon cutting of the SoC Communication Innovation Center.

Hunt said that the School of Communication is also looking forward to cementing its place as a campus leader in innovation and engagement. Most recently, the school debuted its Communication Innovation Center, where students with different communication focuses now have a space to collaborate with one another on projects by using the latest technology.

“This space will provide that opportunity for convergence,” Hunt explained. “Students in all the majors can use the space, and I think some great things will happen.”

Fell Hall also houses the award-winning student-run radio station, WZND, and the award-winning TV-10 News station. Both organizations have provided campus and surrounding areas with quality news and entertainment right from Fell Hall’s basement. The school is also home to the Social Media Analytics Command Center, where students and researchers can view and analyze social media trends by using custom software.

These resources are continuing to provide students with the necessary tools to excel beyond their graduation, making them leaders in their future careers and additions to the growing family of successful Redbird alumni. “Every improvement makes our group more valuable,” said Hunt. “It positions us further as a leader.”

Hunt said these efforts are not simply improving the lives and careers of current and future students. The School of Communication alumni are also reaping the benefits of every change, and the school hopes to get more alumni involved.

“It increases the reputation of the School of Communication,” Hunt explained. “It increases and facilitates the reputation of Illinois State University. The more that we do, the more valuable the Illinois State degree is.”

The School of Communication is looking ahead toward a bright future of higher civic engagement, academic innovation, and student, staff, and alumni engagement that will continue to cultivate its unique culture.

“We have incredible students, faculty, and staff committed to what we do, and wonderful alumni who are engaged,” said Hunt. “It’s a great place to be.”

Any story ideas, suggestions, or general feedback? Please contact Pete Smudde at psmudde@ilstu.edu

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