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Speech department anticipates name change

February 22, 2007

The department of Speech Communications and Theatre Arts (SCTA) has decided, as a whole, they would like to change the name of the department to better suit the needs of students and other individuals. The name would change to Communication Studies and Theatre Arts.

“It will reflect what we are really doing in our department,” SCTA Chair Robin Murray said.

The department will have a new beginning and will be better able to help the needs of students to focus on what they are really doing with their education.

“It will make it easier with some of the misconceptions that people have with the department,” speech professor James Pratt said.

SCTA has dealt with people who think the main reason they are there is to teach people public speaking, which, in most cases, is not true. The department is more than just speeches and public speaking.

With the name change professors and advisors will be able to turn the emphasis from speech communications to communication studies. With the name being changed to studies rather than speech, only people will not focus so much on the one thing that might be involved in the department. It is not the only thing they do in the department.

“I am glad they are changing the name,”  freshman Heidi Neibert said. “I am taking a few classes that have nothing to do with speech at all.”

The changes are something professors in the department have been looking for.

“Everyone in the department is pretty excited with the change,” Murray said.

The change will allow professors and advisors to break things down into smaller categories. They will also be able to do a tracking system with it.

“I think we have all had the name change idea in the back of our heads,” Murray said.

It was a unanimous vote when the idea was being kicked around.

The tracking system will entail having three main categories: theatre, communication studies and mass communications. Because there are a variety of classes that are not all speech-based, the name change makes sense. With all the changes within the department, it will allow students a better opportunity for education.

“It is going to reflect the field and where it’s going,” speech professor Jennifer Willis-Rivera said.

With the new changes to the department there will also be a couple classes added to the curriculum.

“There are many hoops that we have to jump through in order to get everything approved,” Murray said.

The department has gone through one hoop already and is planning to meet with another committee sometime in the near future.

“We hope to have the name change approved by this summer,” Murray said.

If the name change is accepted, the department will begin to change. The ways in which people are recruited, and the way the department is talked about will also change. SCTA will also have to change every brochure that is sent out, every folder that is made for students and anything else that might be involved in promoting the program.

Name changes are not very common in departments because it takes so much work to change a name. The department was called the Department of Speech, which was changed to the Department of Speech and Theatre Arts.

“We have had one name change before this about 25 years ago,” Pratt said.

“It was changed for two reasons; one was because the Theatre side was not mentioned at all and was a large part. The other was because there is more that just speech involved so they changed it to Speech Communications,” Pratt said.

The name change 25 years ago was to go along with the broadening of the field as is the name change today.

“It better reflects who we are as a discipline and a department,” Willis-Rivera said.

The change in name will also allow students to understand what is involved in the department and with clarifications it might add some students to the department.

The change in the department name will not affect any classes that are being offered, it has, however, opened the door for a couple more classes to be offered.

The change will allow students to see a better-tracked plan for themselves.

“With the change in the department it will allow students to be on a more focused path,” Murray said.

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