Methodist University Announces Communications Department Changes, Faculty
The Department of Communications at Methodist University has been replaced with two new academic departments, with several new majors and faculty changes. In the School of Public Affairs, there are now the Applied Communication Department and the Mass Communications Department. Dr. Willis “Bill” Watt, who has been with Methodist since 2000, chairs the Applied Communication Department, and new hire Dr. Kevin Swift chairs the Mass Communications Department.
“Communication ranks high among the majors that high school seniors want to pursue, so we want to provide these opportunities for students,” said Executive Vice President and Academic Dean Delmas Crisp. “With this added emphasis, the University expects increased growth in both areas.”
Crisp added that the University is also in the process of expanding its radio and television production lab, a project that is expected to be completed over winter break this year.
Along with the new department reorganization comes a new major, the Applied Communication Bachelor of Science, which offers concentrations in Public Affairs Communication, Organizational Communication and Leadership, and Health Communication.
"Working interdisciplinarily with various of departments and schools across the MU campus, the faculty have expanded opportunities for students interested leadership careers in fields such as public affairs, health, and organizational communication," Watt said.
Additionally, the Applied Communications Department has also hired Brenda Mitchell as director of Debate/Individual Events and an instructor of applied communication.
The Mass Communications Department continues to offer a B.S. or B.A. in Mass Communications, with concentrations in Journalism, Radio, and TV/Multimedia.
“This is a very exciting time for Mass Communications at MU,” Swift said. “We are a program on the move as we grow the major, expand student opportunities, and update our facilities. I am thrilled to be part of a program and University so dedicated to helping students to achieve their goals."
Instructor Brenda E. Mitchell has been a classroom teacher at Jack Britt High School for the past seven years. Since 2011, she served as the head coach of the Speech and Debate Team at Jack Britt High School. Mitchell coached a successful squad of 60 students and her teams qualified for three National Forensics League National Tournaments. Her professional experience includes presenting a new coaches webinar for the National Speech and Debate Association. Mitchell completed a Master of the Arts in Educational Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Education from Central Michigan University. She holds teaching certifications in Michigan and North Carolina in English, Speech, and Dramatic Arts (grades 7-12).
Assistant Professor Kevin Swift joins Methodist University as the chair of Mass Communications. Swift is a veteran of broadcast news in many capacities. He worked as a writer/producer and reporter for several TV and radio stations in the Youngstown, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pa. area. He also served as an anchor/reporter for the award-winning news team at WVLK News in Lexington, Ky. Swift has worked extensively as a freelance videographer, editor and voice over artist throughout western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, Washington, DC, and Missouri. Before joining the faculty at Methodist University, Swift taught at Catholic University, the University of Maryland and Missouri State University. While at MSU, he founded and headed up Ozarks News Journal, a newsmagazine show that was aired throughout the state of Missouri. His research interests include FCC policy and student learning outcomes through practical experience.
Professor Bill Watt’s professional academic experiences include teaching and administrative duties such as vice president for academic affairs, academic dean, school dean, division director, and department chair at NCAA division I, II, and III, as well as NCCAA universities and colleges. Watt was selected by the Kansas Speech Communication Association as the Outstanding College Teacher of the Year (1996). He was inducted into the Mid-America Education Hall of Fame in 1998. Watt has presented more than 50 scholarly papers on topics ranging from communication, leadership, theater, and religion at state, regional, national, and international conferences, with many of the papers being included in conference proceedings. He has authored or co-authored five books in the field of speech communication and business/professional speaking, several monographs about theatre, and co-authored book chapters on intercollegiate debate and leadership. He has published many poems and short stories locally, nationally, and internationally. Watt was ordained in the Christian ministry in 1976 by the Christian Church (Independent). He currently serves as a staff member/trainer for the Cumberland County Institute for Community Leadership and is a member of Fayetteville Observer Community Advisory Board. Watt has a bachelor’s degree from Manhattan (Kan.) Christian College and a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate from Kansas State University.