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History

Mission of the SJMC

Murphy Hall construction begins

The mission of the School of Journalism & Mass Communication (SJMC) is to integrate mass communication education, research and outreach. We focus on preparing students for careers in the wide variety of specializations within journalism and strategic communication, and on expanding and sharing knowledge of mass communication and its role in society. We do this through teaching, research and outreach that are focused on improving the practice of journalism and strategic communication. We believe in professional preparation and in a liberal education rooted in the arts and social sciences. We are committed to teaching students to think critically and creatively in an environment that is diverse, dynamic, globally aware, interactive and intellectually challenging. We prepare undergraduate students to be leaders in mass communication fields and to be thoughtful, productive citizens in their communities and in public life. We prepare graduate students to be the next generation of leading scholars, educators and professionals.

The History of the SJMC: 1917 to the present

SJMC Undergrads in the 50s

 

1917 Journalism education at the University of Minnesota formally begins when plans are drawn for a major curriculum with courses offered in continuity. Before that time, there had been four sporadic journalism course offerings, including a 1915 writing course given on the St. Paul campus by William P. Kirkwood, publications director of the College of Agriculture. It was Kirkwood who convinced the College of Science, Literature and the Arts (CSLA) to offer a journalism program.

1918 A major development assuring the future of journalism at the University of Minnesota comes when William J. Murphy, publisher of the Minneapolis Tribune, bequeaths a portion of his estate to the university for “the establishing and maintaining of a course of instruction in journalism.”

1922 The department of journalism is established within CSLA and Reuel R. Barlow is named administrator with the title, “instructor in charge.”

1929 The department is located in Folwell Hall and the old Music Building until moving into Pillsbury Hall in 1929. The department’s first master’s degree is awarded a year later.

1930 A former Seattle and New York newspaperman who obtained his Ph.D. from Wisconsin, Ralph D. Casey, becomes the head of the journalism department. Casey begins building what is to become a renowned faculty.

1934 Mitchell V. Charnley, former newspaperman, magazine editor and Iowa State College professor, is hired to teach reporting and to develop the magazine journalism courses.

1935 Ralph O. Nafziger, former newspaperman and Wisconsin Ph.D. candidate, joins the faculty to be a research specialist in international communication and the foreign press. He also teaches news editing and public affairs reporting.

1938 The construction of Murphy Hall, a new home for journalism, is authorized by the Regents and completed in 1940.

1941 The department becomes the School of Journalism.

1944 A School of Journalism Research Division – the first of its kind in the nation – is established.

1948 Minnesota is one of the first 35 journalism schools to be designated “accredited” by the American Council on Education for Journalism.

1950 The school’s library expands with the establishment of the Thomas Heggen Memorial Library.

1960s Major curriculum changes are made. R. Smith Schuneman develops a photojournalism program. That same year the faculty develops a curriculum statement that establishes specializations in broadcast journalism, magazine journalism, creative graphic arts, photojournalism and public relations.

1965 A major revision of the undergraduate curriculum takes place with the addition of an introduction to journalism course and the creation of a course in basic visual communication.

1960s and '70s A period of tremendous growth. The number of undergraduates grows from 300 in 1960 to 602 in 1970 and then to 1,156 in 1980. Special entrance requirements are initiated in the mid-1970s because the growth has surpassed available space.

1979 The Minnesota Journalism Center, funded by a gift from John and Elizabeth Cowles, is created to promote interaction between journalism academics and professionals.

1980 The journalism library is named the Eric Sevareid Library.

1983 The Alumni Board launches the popular mentor program, which has matched hundreds of students with alumni in the industry over its 35-year history.

1984 The Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics & Law is established with a gift from Otto and Helen Silha.

1997 A special University president-created Communications Studies Task Force report calls for a $9 million renovation of Murphy Hall, with new labs, updated equipment and new faculty lines, in addition to the founding of a “New Media Institute” and a state-of-the-art information center that brings journalism and mass communication education at Minnesota back to its original prominence.

1999 Construction begins for the Murphy Hall renovation and is unveiled in 2000.

2000 The School receives a transformational $10 million gift from the Hubbard Broadcasting Foundation. Over the years the money is used for scholarships, fellowships and a digital media lab in the basement of Murphy Hall.

2004 The work of the school faculty, director Al Tims, CLA Dean Steven Rosenstone and university administrators is recognized by an independent review team designed to assess the program’s progress. The independent review lavishes praise on the newly-revitalized SJMC, noting that the work to rejuvenate the program had been “truly transformative within the SJMC” and applauds the school’s “responsiveness and foresight, [which] has allowed it to reclaim its place among the elite schools of journalism in the country.”

2004 The School launches its new Professional M.A. in Strategic Communication.

2012 The School undergoes accreditation, an extensive review conducted every six years by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC). The School is visited by a site team of four journalism educators and professionals. After its review, the site team recommends full accreditation.

2014 Murphy Hall turns 75 years old.

2016 The School launches the dual-degree B.A./M.A. in health communication.

2017 The University hires Dr. Elisia Cohen as director of the School.

2017 The University Senate All-Honors Committee and the Board of Regents approve renaming SJMC to the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication.