by ELIZABETH METSCH, Staff Writer
The Communication department is in the process of hiring an added position in order to help create a new offering and learning opportunity for students after the MAAC Conference signed a contract with ESPN. Thom Gencarelli, Chair of the department, shared that the MAAC’s “eleven member Colleges will provide intercollegiate athletics programming for ESPN’s new WatchESPN Internet channel and mobile app.”
Because of this new ESPN service, the Communication department was asked if they could support the initiative by creating an academic program in which students would produce the games and events for live streaming.
This not only brings a new offer to MAAC sports fans, but gives a new chance for students to develop in an area which the college has never before provided. Arshia Anwer, a full-time faculty member of the department, explained that the program is unique because it will exist as a concentration within the major, rather than being its own major or own school entirely.
Anwer explained, “Various students across all the concentrations have an interest in athletics and sports production or sports media, especially people in Broadcast or Journalism.” Many athletes receive Communication degrees, and she believes the concentration will largely appeal to that demographic as well.
Gencarelli explained that this new position will be responsible for not only teaching the courses related to the concentration, but will also “ultimately be responsible for the excellence of the concentration and the work the students do in it – which does mean ensuring that the product we create for WatchESPN will be as professional – as broadcast-quality – as it can possibly be.”
As for where they are in the process? Though an incomplete hiring process is confidential, Gencarelli was able to share some insight. Approximately fifty applications were received, of which six received phone interviews, and three were offered to come teach demonstration classes.
“We’re looking for someone that’s either worked academically or profession in sports and media who will fit into the style of a Communication department in a Liberal Arts school,” Anwer explained.
Students are afforded the opportunity to sit in on the demonstration classes and give feedback which is highly considered and valued in the decision making. While all the demonstrations went well, few students attended them according to Gencarelli who expressed disappointment in that these demonstrations provide students a chance to voice their opinion, and to really see the talent of the applicants in actions, and yet it is not fully taken advantage of.
Anwer offered, “Perhaps less students attended because their is not an existing population of this concentration. When demonstration classes occurred for the Journalism professor opening, more students attended because we have students in that area of study already.” However, she believes the concentration will be popular once it is up and running.
Hopefully, the new position will be filled by the upcoming fall semester so that students may enroll in these classes as a concentration, or as electives. Students must work their way through the concentration courses in order to ultimately reach the “Advanced Sports Media Production” class where students will have the opportunity to fully produce pieces for the college and ESPN.
“If everything stays on track, this first production should occur in the spring of 2020,” said Anwer. The department is eager to provide this offering to students, and hopes students will be just as excited to enroll in the various courses, even just to enrich their background knowledge for a separate concentration.
A new concentration and learning experience is always exciting. And, it’s good to see the college take initiative to grow and help enhance students’ experiences here.