USC Aiken Communication Department Celebrates 20 Years
Aiken, SC (05/24/2019) — This year is a big one for the University of South Carolina Aiken Department of Communication as it celebrates two decades of offering a communication degree, and its 600th graduate received a diploma during commencement May 8. Additionally, some members of the Class of 2019 were among the 13 recently inducted into the Lambda Pi Eta National Communication Honor Society.
Throughout the last 20 years, the department has grown and seen changes, in part due to its popularity among students deciding on their majors. Accomplished faculty now include Dr. Jason Munsell who recently arrived on campus and served as president of the Southern States Communication Association. Dr. David Morris joined the Pacer team from the University of Oregon and now coaches the university's e-sports team, which just won the Peach Belt Conference Championship. In the fall, the USC Aiken Communication Department will welcome a new colleague from Texas A&M.
Dr. Charmaine Wilson, the current chair of the department, retires in June after 28 years. During her tenure, she twice earned both the USC Aiken Teaching Excellence Award and the Excellence in Advisement Award. Other accolades include the Carolinas Communication Association Career Teaching Excellence Award, the USC Aiken University Service Award, and the Campus Community Service Award.
Not only has she been a leader in her own department, but Wilson served as the USC Aiken Faculty Assembly Chair for four years, vice chair for two year, and served on or chaired more than 20 search committees.
"I have enjoyed my time here," she said. "Of all the accomplishments, I am particularly proud that we have created an award-winning program assessment for communication and have sustained a respectable record of scholarly productivity."
She has ushered in new curricula, faculty and programs, leaving an enduring legacy at USC Aiken. Additionally, Wilson will continue to impact students as two scholarships are named for her. They are both important to her, but one in particular is special because it was the effort of a Pacer alumna. Several years ago, a student who was greatly impacted by the professor established the Dr. Charmaine E. Wilson Scholarship, which was recently endowed.
Upon Wilson's retirement, Dr. Bing Han will serve as the department chair.
She is expected to continue a longstanding tradition of excellence within the USC Aiken Department of Communication, which is centered on student success. Whether in the classroom, in the field, on campus, and long after graduation, the communication faculty provide an engaging and enriching experience for Pacers. Relevant and real-world internships rank among their top high-impact practices.
This year, more than 40 students did capstone internships -- and many others completed non-capstone internships -- in the local area, working in a range of professional environments, including marketing, human resources, publishing, social media and digital marketing, operations, sports information, event planning, video production, tourism, fundraising, research, and broadcasting.
"We have had a tremendous impact on the community this past year, as the list of partner agencies and organizations for our capstone internships reveals," Wilson said.
She, the faculty, and the Pacers in the communication program work closely with USC Aiken Career Services, making connections in the community and helping prepare students for these real-world experiences.
The investment Wilson, the faculty, and USC Aiken Career Services make in these students pays off.
"The [USC Aiken] communication majors are just on another level in terms of skills, preparation and attitude," said one internship supervisor.
That employer isn't the only one who thinks so; others who put these Pacer interns to work agree..
"We've had interns from multiple departments on campus and obviously interact with students from various programs. What your department does is incredible. I'm not sure if your majors see the advantages and benefits yet, but future employers will benefit from what you guys are doing day in and day out to prepare these students," said another internship supervisor.