Vic Brotzman

When the Laws Hall and Associates program (LH&A) was suspended following the 2007 fall semester, many communication students were left wondering what they would do for their capstone experience.

But with spring semester more than a week underway, students are currently enrolled in the solutions provided by the department of communication: a variety of alternative capstone courses.

These courses intend to give students experiences similar to those formerly provided by LH&A. Communication professor Howard Kleiman said that the new capstones were designed to resemble the LH&A program while still bringing something new to the table for students.

“Neither (of the new capstones) were created to be mirror images of the Laws Hall program,” he said. “In the spirit of Laws Hall, we wanted to develop something hands-on.”

The first course combines elements of the mass communication and strategic communication majors, where students create promotional videos for actual nonprofit organizations in the Cincinnati area. In the old program, students majoring in marketing, graphic design and communication worked together to create a marketing campaign for a real-life client.

Sam Ribbler and Bill Brewer are the instructors of the new capstone, handling the mass communication and strategic communication sides of the program, respectively. Ribbler said the course is similar to the old one in that it allows students to work together for a real-life client, but it now has a different approach.

“These are nonprofit organizations,” he said. “We are forming a public relations plan to meet specific needs.”

Though it is early in the semester, students seem to like the new course, and the opportunities it offers.

“I’m kind of excited to see what’s going to happen,” said senior Jennifer Dresel, a mass communication major. “(Our client) sounds really excited for us to be helping him out with his campaign.”

Dresel said she had hoped to enroll in the Laws Hall program before it ended.

“All the COM people are really upset about it,” she said. “But it was really great of them to put this class together.”

Senior Candice Burns, a strategic communication major, had similarly wanted to enroll in the Laws Hall program, but took the new capstone instead when LH&A closed. Originally, she thought that the new course would provide a worthwhile experience.

“I’m excited since we’re going to be working with real clients,” she said.

The other new capstone allows students to create a documentary.

The retuned capstone allows students to create a one-act play, with high-end production and acting, producing it for television.

Students looking for the international experiences that the LW&A program offered them are more limited in the options, however.

Only one communication course will be offered by the university overseas next summer, but it will only count toward general Miami Plan credit. That course (which has not yet been assigned a number, but is called “Intercultural Communication in the European Context”) will be taught by assistant professor Stephanie Rollie.

Another option for communication students who want international experience will be the Inside London program, which bears a resemblance to the current Inside Washington program.

Though the project is still in the approval process, Kleiman says it will give students an opportunity for real-world experiences similar to the Laws Hall program.

“The idea is to create an intercultural experience for our students,” Kleiman said. “We’re familiar with London. It’s one of the media centers of the world. There’s no language issue.”

He added that while the program is still taking “baby steps” and hasn’t had time to spread much via word of mouth, he believes it will be a very popular program once it has been openly advertised.

Kleiman recommended that COM students looking for international experience also look into Miami’s summer program in Florence, Italy, which will offer experience in the journalism field. Alternatively, he said that many other universities offer programs overseas with transferable credit.