Public relations major approved for fall 2018

left+to+right%3A++Annabelle+Wilson+%28Social+Media+Manager+for+PRAd%29%2C+Jake+Rapanotti+%28Vice+President+of+PRAd%29%2C+and+Dr.+Chiaoning+Su
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Public relations major approved for fall 2018

left to right:  Annabelle Wilson (Social Media Manager for PRAd), Jake Rapanotti (Vice President of PRAd), and Dr. Chiaoning Su

left to right: Annabelle Wilson (Social Media Manager for PRAd), Jake Rapanotti (Vice President of PRAd), and Dr. Chiaoning Su

courtesy of Dr. Chiaoning Su

left to right: Annabelle Wilson (Social Media Manager for PRAd), Jake Rapanotti (Vice President of PRAd), and Dr. Chiaoning Su

courtesy of Dr. Chiaoning Su

courtesy of Dr. Chiaoning Su

left to right: Annabelle Wilson (Social Media Manager for PRAd), Jake Rapanotti (Vice President of PRAd), and Dr. Chiaoning Su

Trevor Tyle, Staff Reporter

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Students at Oakland University have the option to choose between more than 130 undergraduate degrees for their major. Beginning in the Fall 2018 semester, students will have another field of study to choose from: public relations.

On Oct. 6, received news that its proposal for a new Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Strategic Communication had been approved at the state level. The process took three years, but journalism program director Garry Gilbert reported the major will be worth it in the long run.

“Over the last decade, journalism jobs have been shrinking—in part because we still don’t have a viable economic model for journalism,” he said. “But there was growth in PR and so, we were seeing more student interest in public relations, more jobs in public relations [and] those jobs pay well.”

Gilbert further noted that neither the University of Michigan nor Michigan State University had such a major, so before Oakland’s addition, only Wayne State and Eastern Michigan offered it in southeastern Michigan.

Public relations is the most popular minor in the journalism and communication department, according to Gilbert. After surveying students, he determined that there is an interest among both prospective and current students—although there is concern that it could draw some interest away from journalism and communication degrees.

“There’s 250,000 people working in public relations in this country, and probably about 50,000 working in journalism,” Gilbert said.

Despite this, he says that the program will be “rigorous,” emphasizing that there are “scholarly reasons” to study public relations beyond the career opportunities. Several new classes will be offered, among them are classes for writing for PR, research methods in regards to public relations and a crisis communication class taught by professor Chiaoning Su.

Gilbert believes Su, who helped run political campaigns for her father, the former Premier of Taiwan, and has previously worked for Ogilvy Public Relations, will be a key factor in the success of the program.

“She’s very popular with students,” Gilbert said. “Students love her, and I think because of her ability in the classroom and her ability to connect with students, that she’ll help attract students to the major.”

The department will begin accepting applications for the major in January, of which 30 students will be admitted into the program to start—which, Gilbert says, is to “carefully manage the program.”

In order to apply, students must pass Writing 1600, Intro to Journalism and Intro to PR with a minimum of a 3.0 in each of the classes. From there, the department will base their selections on other factors, such as grade point average.

For more information, visit the Public Relations webpage.