Everyone needs friends. The Communication Arts Department is lucky to have a distinguished group of them, known as CAPS, or Communication Arts Partners. Some are alumni of the UW, some are current and former faculty; all take a generous and helpful interest in the department and how to keep it strong and innovative. Twice a year they come together in Madison to discuss the progress of the department and its students.
This fall’s meeting took place on November 4, preceded by a classic brat fry at the Madison Elks Club. Among the alumns present were George Hamel, Ed Greenberg, Tom Kane, Lee deBoer, Scott Broetzmann, Stuart Brotman, and Susan Schmitz, who joined with faculty board members Tino Balio, Joanne Cantor, Jim Hirsch, Vance Kepley, and Steven Lucas, department chair Michele Hilmes, and Jon Sorenson of the UW Foundation for the following days’ meeting at the Pyle Center.
Some of the facts about Comm Arts presented by Hilmes: the department has over 700 undergraduate majors and 75 graduate students, making it one of the largest in the College of Letters and Science. More than 80 undergraduates are placed in career-related internships each year. Its 21 faculty members cover a broad span of communication and media study, as demonstrated by Professor Catalina Toma, who presented her research on deception in online dating sites to the group.
Professor Robert Howard described the department’s ongoing engagement with the campus-wide Digital Studies Initiative. By Fall 2012, a new Certificate in Digital Studies should be up and running, with Comm Arts in the leadership role. New courses in digital production, internet studies, and digital communication are in the works, and the department’s Instructional Media Center has been upgrading its network and facilities.
CAPS funding and advice aids in all these activities. This becomes ever more important as digital media change the shape of the communication field. Our alumns are helping us lead the way.