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BU College of Communication commemorates 100-year anniversary

2014 marks the 100th birthday of Boston University’s College of Communication, as public relations courses were first offered in 1914. PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
2014 marks the 100th birthday of Boston University’s College of Communication, as public relations courses were first offered in 1914. PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

After a century of educating students in media, Boston University’s College of Communication will celebrate its 100th birthday with a collection of campaigns and celebrations in 2014.

“We’re commemorating the roots of COM, not it’s founding,” said Kim Relick, head of strategic marketing and communication at COM. “The first courses in advertising and public relations were taught here at BU in 1914. We’ve planned a year of special events and social media campaigns to involve the college, the BU community and our many alumni worldwide.”

The festivities are going to take place over the course of 2014, with two main celebrations open to all COM students, Relick said.

“The first part is this spring, around commencement, we’re planning a party, a lawn party for seniors, one that celebrates COM’s 100 year legacy,” she said. “And then we’ve planned the second part of the celebration for next fall, and that is when the alumni come back again, so [they] will also be able to celebrate … Students are planning an interactive part between students and alumni, so they can come together, which doesn’t usually happen at alumni weekends.”

Other projects include a commemorative exhibition of the history if COM and a book detailing the history of communication education at BU, Relick said.

“The dean has also commissioned a special video be made for the commencement and the alumni weekend, to be shown to both the graduating class of 2014 and returning alumni,” she said. “We also hope to commission a book about the history of COM. That we’ll be working on throughout the year because we wanted to include what happened or will happen in 2014. So that will probably come out in early-to-mid 2015.”

The efforts to celebrate the college’s 100th birthday, led by COM Dean Thomas Fiedler, Relick, and COM’s PR Lab team, kicked off this week with the publication of COMtalk 100, COM’s alumni magazine.

The online magazine’s interactive timeline lists “100 Reasons to Celebrate COM”. Among the list of significant moments in COM’s history is Carol Hills earning the country’s first master’s degree in public relations at BU, Howard Stern being fired from the student radio station WBTU in 1973 and the founding of The Daily Free Press in 1971.

While these events are remarkable, Relick said the most significant aspect of COM’s history is its audacity to break tradition in communication education.

“There are a lot of firsts here at COM,” Relick said. “There were only a few universities in the country at the time [1914] who felt the fields of advertising and journalism were worthy of higher education and academic study. The nation and the country certainly did not look at these fields as having an area of expertise.”

An issue regarding the celebration of 100 years of COM is the general lack of student knowledge surrounding the event, Relick said.

“The truth is, students didn’t know about [the celebration],” Relick explained. “They didn’t realize that the seeds of this college were sown 100 years ago in 1914. And they also didn’t know a lot of the famous people to come out of here.”

In order to spread the news, COM has hired the student-run public relations agency PR Lab, who is helping promote the celebration on social media.

Student involvement is vital to the success of the celebration in giving COM the recognition it deserves, said PR Lab Account Executive Joseph Barto.

“We want students to get involved and participate in the many social media contests we are going to run as well as share their COM memories with us,” Barto, a COM junior, said. “We will be giving away great prizes, including a special COM 100 T-shirt. For students to participate and have a chance to win, they should follow @COM100Years and use the hashtag #COM100.”

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