Letter from the Director: Michael Slater

Mike Slater

Since July 1, it has been my honor to serve as director for the School of Communication. I would like to share a few of my impressions, based on the broader perspective on the school that I’ve gained in my first few months as director.

The primary impression is the commitment to excellence that pervades the school—faculty, staff and students.

Most of you probably are aware by now of the school’s research excellence. You may not realize exactly how excellent the school is. There are two major international rankings of programs in communication worldwide. The more objective of the two, the Shanghai Rankings, which focus on scholarly productivity, ranks us number one in the world in the communication field.

Pause a second to take that in. No other program at Ohio State can make such a boast.

Another, more subjective, ranking put us at number 21. Only one other program at OSU was ranked as high or higher.

Such international recognition is a consequence of the cutting edge research done here on online rumor, political knowledge and involvement, social media, avatars, social identity and stereotypes online, effects of video games and game avatars, media and violence, how mediated communication can improve people’s health and well-being, and much more.

What does this mean for students?

In the classroom, our students are taught by world-class experts regarding how to think about communication issues and challenges. Undergraduates, as well as grad students, also have opportunities to assist in research, experiences that can open exciting career opportunities.

I’ve also had the privilege of getting to know better our faculty teaching our professional courses, advising the Lantern, Lantern TV, The PRactice (our student-run PR agency), Public Relations Student Society of America, and the Black Advertising and Strategic Communication Association. (My own background included eight years in public relations and a bit of freelance journalism before becoming an academic, so these areas also have been of particular interest to me.)

There is a tremendous level of commitment and creativity in our school—training for today and tomorrow’s media world, cross-training in the convergence of writing, video, social media—training in what employers look for in their new employees in today’s communication world. This involves innovation in terms of classroom resources, teaching methods and training with real-world tools and partnerships. A prime example is Ohio State’s new partnership with Apple to become a digital flagship university and the journalism program’s work to bring iPads into the classroom to prepare students to produce news in a new era of reporting.

At the same time, students continue to have the opportunity to master traditional communication skills. I’d particularly like to note recent alumni gifts endowing the Oller and Miller enterprise reporting positions at the Lantern.  Last year, the Oller support made possible an in-depth story that won the national SPJ award for sports reporting. We continue to work with alumni and the university to achieve the kind of support that makes such initiatives possible, and that help ensure the Lantern and other school learning opportunities remain vibrant. Our warm thanks to all those whose gifts help make the school, and the Lantern, remain great places to learn and grow.

I’m excited to be part of the School.  We’re part of the most dynamic and exciting place to be in today’s world—the field of communication—at The Ohio State University.