Syracuse University’s Newhouse School has been recognized by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) with the Equity & Diversity Award.
One of the highest honors in diversity and inclusion, the annual award recognizes academic programs in journalism and mass communication that are working toward, and have attained measurable success in, increasing equity and diversity. Programs must display progress and innovation in racial, gender and ethnic equity and diversity over the previous three-year period.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion are essential components of the fabric and identity of the Newhouse School, embedded in everything from recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff, to curriculum and special programs,” says Interim Dean Amy Falkner. “We are one of the country’s largest institutions of public communications, with a singular shared focus on improving the environment for diversity and inclusion in multiple ways.”
Judges noted Newhouse’s programming, student projects, international involvement and “on-the-spot” learning and training.
Said one judge, “It definitely wasn’t a one-year, ‘let’s get something together for an award’ effort. It is apparent they are doing things—not just for the award.”
Newhouse’s undergraduate curriculum includes a diversity requirement—the intensive, three-credit Race, Gender and Media course. Topics and projects focused on issues of diversity and inclusion are also weaved into every academic program in the school. For example, students in the magazine, news and digital journalism program participate in the Urban Reporting course, which places them in Syracuse’s South Side neighborhood to report for The Stand, a community newspaper established by Newhouse faculty in 2010.
Students from across majors work on The NewsHouse, the school’s multimedia news site, which produces series like Borderlines. The award-winning project told the stories of people on both sides of the New York-Canada border, which divides the Mohawk Nation. Stories also covered topics such as migrants in Buffalo and Muslims working for religious tolerance in Quebec.
The school hosts regular, informal forums that encourage students of color to discuss their experiences and make connections—with each other and with Newhouse faculty, staff and administrators. Spearheaded by Hub Brown, associate dean for research, creativity, international initiatives and diversity, the forums open the lines of communication between students and administration, and build a sense of trust.
“The idea of the forums was to establish connections outside of crisis,” says Brown. “Doing that gives us a better chance to help students when difficulties arise. Students of color, LGBTQ students and international students, among others, need to know that Newhouse is their school, too. This gives us a chance to reinforce that message.”
Globalists, a student-run digital publication that promotes dialogue between international and domestic students at Syracuse University, grew out of these forums.
The Newhouse School places an emphasis on the recruitment and retention of students from diverse backgrounds. In the 2018-2019 academic year, 26 percent of domestic undergraduates and 51 percent of master’s students were from diverse backgrounds. International students made up 7 percent of undergraduates and 30 percent of the master’s students. In the same academic year, 25 percent of faculty members were from underrepresented groups.
Newhouse’s student retention rate is 95 percent, helped in part by the Newhouse Ambassadors program. Coordinated by Wes Whiteside, director of recruitment and diversity, the program connects current students with prospective students for peer support.
The professional development of students of color is supported through diversity-focused internship partnerships with Bustle, Time Inc., LinkedIn and Insider Inc. The Newhouse Minority Fellowship Program, established in 1994, provides graduate students in journalism with full-tuition scholarships and on-the-job training at Advance Media New York. More than 100 students have completed the program.
Public relations students take part in the Edelman-Newhouse Diversity Internship Program, which places them in Edelman offices across the country. Similarly, advertising students are regular participants in the Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP), sponsored by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A). The program provides students with a 10-week paid summer internship at member advertising agencies.
The school also hosts and co-sponsors speaker series and annual events, such as Leaders in Communications, Conversation on Race and Entertainment Media and the Syracuse University Human Rights Film Festival, which touch on important topics in diversity.
Falkner attributes the school’s success to the hard work and commitment of Newhouse community members. “All across our community, you will find a passion for this cause, driven by the urgency that we feel about making sure our students emerge ready not just to contribute to the expanding diversity of our professions, but also to lead those professions in a more diverse nation and world.”
AEJMC will present the award to the Newhouse School at the Virtual Conference in August.