#ASCJNewYear – Welcome to the 2014-2015 academic year!

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Wilson Bay Banet-Weiser

New building. New program. New era. Over the next few days the Inside Annenberg blog will bring you an exclusive preview of the exciting 2014-2015 academic year USC Annenberg faculty, students and staff have ahead of them. From event previews, to student and faculty profiles, to surveys of new classes and new academic minors, to looks at our groundbreaking new converged media center, the stories collected below under the heading of #ASCJNewYear are the beginning of an ongoing conversation about the important work we do together as members of the USC Annenberg community. As this is a conversation, we’d love it if you used the #ASCJNewYear hashtag on Twitter and Instagram while sharing and responding to these stories. We will collect and share those responses here as they come in.

Taste of Annenberg 2013New students to get a Taste of Annenberg August 21

Incoming USC Annenberg students will get a preview of the exciting four years ahead of them with the Taste of Annenberg new student event on August 21.


StudentsUSC Annenberg offers new fall 2014 journalism courses

With a new building, new Master’s degree program, and new classes, the USC Annenberg School of Journalism will see some exciting changes this fall.


Comm StudentsSchool of Communication offers new courses in the fall

This fall, the School of Communication is offering several new special topics classes, as well as a number of existing courses that are now a part of the school’s curriculum.


M{2e} co-driectorsMinor Key: Introducing the brand new Media, Economics and Entrepreneurship minor

Over the last few years, an interdisciplinary program called Media, Economics and Entrepreneurship (M{2E}) has given students an invaluable, economic-focused understanding of the media landscape, but what it didn’t give them was an academic credential. That’s where the brand new M{2E} minor comes in.


Going ViralAnnenberg X offers set of experimental learning courses for fall 2014

USC Annenberg Professors Jonathan Aronson, K.C. Cole and Marc Cooper will be part of a new series of two-unit courses this fall designed to engage students seeking careers in media, journalism, communications and entertainment with the world around them.


Wallis Annenberg Hall Media CenterNew Media Center is “one big sandbox for all our student productions” (VIDEO)

Chuck Boyles, director of multimedia technology for USC Annenberg, and Willa Seidenberg, Director of Annenberg Radio News, show off the converged Media Center at Wallis Annenberg Hall.


Jackson Fellowship Recipient Susan Valot Master Class: Jackson Fellowship recipient Susan Valot on the Annenberg advantage

When Susan Valot graduated from college, she wasn’t sure she needed an advanced degree in journalism in order to pursue her craft. But when, after 17 years as a working journalist, she began to think about returning to school and becoming the first in her family to earn a master’s, she wasn’t sure how that dream was going to become a reality.


Wilson-Bay-Banet-Weiser_thumbUSC Annenberg welcomes Banet-Weiser and Bay as directors of Communication and Journalism Schools

Cue the sparklers and the USC Trojan marching band. On July 1, the Annenberg community heartily welcomed Sarah Banet-Weiser and Willow Bay on their first official days as the new directors of the Communication and Journalism Schools at USC Annenberg.

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Master Class: Jackson Fellowship recipient Susan Valot on the Annenberg advantage

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Jackson Fellowship Recipient Susan Valot

Jackson Fellowship Recipient Susan Valot, photographed by Brett Van Ort

Master Class is a regular look at the work, lives and accomplishment of USC Annenberg’s master’s students.

When Susan Valot graduated from college, she wasn’t sure she needed an advanced degree in journalism in order to pursue her craft. But when, after 17 years as a working journalist, she began to think about returning to school and becoming the first in her family to earn a master’s, she wasn’t sure how that dream was going to become a reality.

Fortunately, after applying to USC Annenberg’s Master’s of Specialized Journalism program, Valot was awarded the Jackson Fellowship, which aims to train journalists in science and technology reporting. For Valot, who had always been interested in the medical field and in making scientific news more accessible to the general public, the fellowship was not just a perfect fit. It also played a huge role in making her graduate school education possible.

“There was no way I could have come here without the fellowship,” Jackson said. “I was so happy. Happy and surprised.”

Valot has spent most of her career as a journalist and radio news reporter at stations such as KLON Long Beach and Los Angeles’ KNX, and was also the Orange County Bureau Chief at KPCC. Most recently, she’s been a freelance reporter at KQED’s The California Report and NPR’s Only a Game. After such an impressive–and award-winning–run, the idea of returning to school initially created some mixed emotions.

“I think it’s different coming in [to graduate school] as an older student,” Valot said. “But I think it’s great that there are several people in our class who are older.”

Valot earned her Bachelor’s degree at California State, Fullerton and currently teaches audio production at Saddleback College. Becoming more qualified and competitive as a higher education instructor was a driving force behind choosing to pursue her Master’s of Arts degree, and for choosing Annenberg, Valot said.

“I looked at other options, but they were very broad and very theory-based, and I liked that the Annenberg program was hands-on and focused,” Valot said. “You can use that more than you can use theory. Once you move onto a certain point you want that hands-on experience…and this program also looked lot more fun.”

Though Valot is a seasoned radio journalist, she’s looking forward to gaining more experience in print and digital journalism in order to become the most well-rounded journalist possible.

“I think this will help diversify what I do so I’m not just a one trick pony,” said Valot of the Specialized Journalism program. “I want to be able to do more than one thing well, and I think that’s what makes you stand out as a journalist.”

In addition to diversifying her skills, Valot also wants to narrow her field of focus to produce simple–but thorough–science and technology reporting, which is the ultimate goal of the Jackson Fellowship.

“As science and technology advance ever more quickly, we are increasingly dependent on people who can investigate specific research, innovations, trends, possibilities and problems, and then effectively present this information to a lay audience,” Thomas Campbell Jackson, who created the Jackson Fellowship with his wife, Penny Jackson, said in 2013. “We need talented explainers to engage audiences and transmit information in a largely nontechnical way that is nevertheless meaningful and actionable.”

After the M.A. Specialized Journalism Program concludes, Valot expects to continue as a freelance journalist, though in a much more, well, specialized capacity. That said, she’s open to any number of opportunities that may arise from her experience at Annenberg.

“A year ago if you would have said that I would be going to grad school at USC under a fellowship,” Valot said” I would have probably said you were crazy. I’ve always been one who takes the path that’s set out before me, so there could be opportunities that come up through this program in the next year that lay out a completely different path than I was expecting.”

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New Media Center is “one big sandbox for all our student productions”

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Chuck Boyles, director of multimedia technology for USC Annenberg, shows off the converged Media Center at Wallis Annenberg Hall

Willa Seidenberg of Annenberg Radio News is most looking forward to the impact the state-of-the-art complex will have on student and faculty collaboration.

The building will be complete for its grand opening on October 1, 2014.

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Minor Key: Introducing the brand new Media, Economics and Entrepreneurship minor

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Professor Gabriel Kahn, Co-Director of M{2e}, Dean Ernest J. Wilson III and  Professor Christopher Smith, Co-Director of M{2e}, attend an August 2013 event.

Professor Gabriel Kahn, Co-Director of M{2e}, Dean Ernest J. Wilson III and Professor Christopher Smith, Co-Director of M{2e}, attend an August 2013 event.

Minor Key is recurring look at one the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism’s many undergraduate minors.

In fall 2010, USC Annenberg Professor Paolo Sigismondi’s COMM 207: Economic Thinking for Communication and Journalism was offered for the first time, allowing students to examine media industries through an economic lens.

Annenberg Professor Gabriel Kahn recalls that at the time there was growing concern that students pursuing media careers had limited understandings of their chosen fields as businesses.

“The entire communication industry is being transformed rapidly and there was nothing here to contextualize the economic tectonic shift that’s taking place,” Kahn said. With that gap in mind, Kahn and Annenberg Professor Chris Smith developed an interdisciplinary program called Media, Economics and Entrepreneurship (M{2E}), which offered courses aimed at giving students what Kahn calls “wherewithal in how these [fields] are changing: what the challenges and opportunities are, what [students’] role in that is and the economic forces behind it.”

Though the classes were giving students an invaluable understanding of the media landscape, they didn’t produce a credential, which is where the brand new M{2E} minor comes in.

The minor is a partnership between Annenberg and USC Marshall’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. As such, the introductory courses for the minor include two business courses (BAEP 450 and BAEP 451) and two communication courses (COMM 207 and COMM 208).

The minor also offers numerous other unique courses designed to give students “business acumen specific to [media] industries.”

“Essentially, it’s a new way of packaging the curriculum that we’ve developed here over the last couple of years,” Kahn said. Smith added that the curriculum as a whole aims to “give students a mindset for appreciating the characteristics of an age of innovation like we’re in now.”

Kahn’s JOUR 469: Money, Markets and Media gives students who want to work in the media the technical vocabulary needed to talk about media business without having to take an introductory economics class.

“Everything is an economic issue, whether you want to cover sports, entertainment, the environment, whatever it is,” Kahn said. “So, this is a way to increase economic literacy among journalism students, and communication students who come for the same reason.”

In the spring, a course called “Monetization of the New Media” will be offered for the third time. The course looks at how we value media assets and content against the backdrop of changing distribution models.

“It’s very exciting because there are a lot of new opportunities to explore in terms of finding new revenue streams, but it’s also one of tremendous churn, lots of trial and error,” Kahn said.

What was once known as the television industry is now known as simply the video industry, which is what Smith will examine with students in COMM 432: American Media and Entertainment Industries.

The M{2E} minor is available to all USC students, including those majoring in Communication so long as they take primarily business and journalism courses from the curriculum.

Although Joann Park graduated from the School of Communication in May, she nearly every M{2E} course while at Annenberg and would have likely been a minor had it been offered.

“My understanding of how media and money connect definitely set me apart when I was applying for internships or jobs,” Park said. She is now working in the strategy department at Viacom and said that the majority of her co-workers have a finance or business background, so M{2E} was instrumental in preparing her for the position.

Overall, Smith argues that all students will benefit from the minor tracks industrial shifts taking place “across the industries represented by our entire school.”

“What makes Annenberg unique is that you can get an appreciation for the full spectrum of how these constitutive elements of the media business, the information business, add up together,” Smith said.

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School of Communication offers new courses in the fall

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Students analyze media content in the Media, Diversity, & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative lab.

Students analyze media content in the Media, Diversity, & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative lab.

As USC Annenberg takes up residence at the brand new Wallis Annenberg Hall, it will welcome new students and faculty members, as well as number of new and improved classes.

This fall, the School of Communication is offering several new special topics classes, as well as a number of existing courses that are now a part of the school’s curriculum.

CMGT 599: Celebrimedia: The Business of Fame and Celebrity is a new special topics course taught by adjunct faculty member Aaron Settipane. The course will examine the strategies and tactics used to perpetuate fame and celebrity as a business model in the modern entertainment industry.

Another new special topics class is PUBD 599: Military Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy, taught by Professor Carol Atkinson from the School of International Relations. The course will look at how the U.S. military communicates within the U.S. and abroad, as well as look at case studies of past public diplomacy efforts.

Professor David Craig and new adjunct faculty member Bob Levy will be teaching CMGT 552: Visual Storytelling: Production, Management and Culture. The course, which looks at scripted content to understand visual storytelling as a communication strategy, was previously offered as a special topics course.

COMM 444: Critical Theories of Sport, which was also previously taught as a special topics course, is now an elective course in the recently revised curriculum for the Sports Media Studies minor. The course will be taught by Professor William Morgan.

Professor Jonathan Taplin’s COMM 306 has been redesigned and retitled: Innovation, Entertainment, and the Arts. The course will look at innovation in the entertainment industry and how digital mobile media affects media and entertainment content.

Annenberg’s Seminar in Communication (COMM 400) is being taught by adjunct faculty member Michael Robinson. The seminar topic, which changes by semester and professor, will be: Privacy and Security in the Surveillance Age.

The School of Journalism is also offering a number of new classes in the fall.

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New students to get a Taste of Annenberg August 21

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Taste of Annenberg 2013

Taste of Annenberg 2013

Incoming USC Annenberg students will get a preview of the exciting four years ahead of them with the Taste of Annenberg new student event on August 21.

Dean Ernest J. Wilson III will lead the undergraduate welcome assembly in Annenberg Auditorium, and Willow Bay, the new Director of the School of Journalism, and Sarah Banet-Weiser, the new Director of the School of Communication, will also speak. Faculty from both schools will introduce students to the idea of interdisciplinary studies and how to become involved during their time at Annenberg.

Following the assembly, both undergraduate and graduate students will convene at Founders Park for a picnic lunch and Involvement Fair.

Students can stop by over 20 booths at the Involvement Fair to learn more about the numerous student publications and organizations they can become apart of at USC Annenberg. Among these will be Annenberg Television News, Annenberg Radio News, Neon Tommy, and the Daily Trojan.

USC Annenberg will also be hosting an Instagram contest during Taste of Annenberg. Students will be challenged to #CaptureASCJ by using props around Founders Park to get creative with their photos, and then upload them to Instagram and tag @USCAnnenberg and #CaptureASCJ.

The contest will run from 12-1:30 pm on August 21, entries will be judged based on style, creativity, school spirit and photo clarity, and winners will receive a bag of ASCJ swag!

Undergraduate students can RSVP for the new student assembly here. No RSVP is necessary for the incoming student lunch and Involvement Fair.

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Annenberg X offers set of experimental learning courses for fall 2014

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Professor Jonathan Aronson.

Professor Jonathan Aronson.

USC Annenberg Professors Jonathan Aronson, K.C. Cole and Marc Cooper will be part of a new series of two-unit courses this fall designed to engage students seeking careers in media, journalism, communications and entertainment with the world around them.

Dubbed Annenberg X, the courses offer students an experimental, interdisciplinary learning experience which will introduce them to new ways of thinking, collaborating and partaking in the world both on and off campus. Classes will feature field trips, guest speakers and hands-on activities and experiments.

Seven Annenberg X classes are offered for the fall semester; three 220 level classes, and four 420 level classes. The 220 level classes are only open to undergraduates, while 420 level classes are also open to graduate students.

Professor K.C. Cole.

Professor K.C. Cole.

Each class will run for approximately six weeks, beginning either at the start of the semester or halfway through.

Annenberg X is not a minor or degree program, so students can take multiple Annenberg X courses each semester if they should choose, and students who are currently registered for 14-16 units for fall are able and encouraged to add a two-unit Annenberg X course.

Professor Cole will be teaching ASCJ 420: Environmental Communications Experience, Catalina with Roberta Marinelli. This course will allow students to work alongside marine scientists and students at the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on Catalina Island for two days in September, and promote discussions about engaging the public in conversations around sustainability.

Maker Experience: The Exploratorium is another of Cole’s ASCJ 420 courses, and will take students to the innovative San Francisco center for art, science and technology in October. Maker Experience: I-Fixit is the third ASCJ 420 class which will be taught by Cole and Courtney Miller. Its aim is to encourage students to use critical thinking and communication skills to repair things and share those solutions online, and will include a field trip to San Louis Obispo in November.

“With these classes, the big thing is we actually don’t know what might happen,” Cole said. “They really are experimental.”

Professor Aronson will be teaching ASCJ 220: Going Viral, and ASCJ 420: Leadership in Startup Media Ventures with entrepreneur Dinesh Moorjani, founder of numerous startups, including Tinder. Aronson’s ACSJ 220: Getting the Skills You Need Tomorrow, Today will focus on helping students navigate the modern world of job hunting and career-building, and is open to all USC students.

“We’re trying to really support cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary [learning],” Aronson said of the new ASCJ classes. “These are the first classes in Annenberg designed with both the communications side and the journalism side of the houses combined. But in addition, there are other groups that we imagine will find that will find this very exciting.”

Another Annenberg X course offered to all University students is Marc Cooper’s ACSJ 220: Pitching Your Ideas and Stories, which aims to help journalists pitch stories to editors, and entrepreneurs pitch business ideas to investors.

Registration for all seven Annenberg X classes is currently still open, and more Annenberg X classes are planned for Spring 2015.

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Annenberg faculty attend conference on the new digital newsroom

The who’s who of digital journalism — including two USC Annenberg faculty — gathered in Philadelphia to discuss the “new” newsroom, and what that does (and should) encompass.srccon

Professor Robert Hernandez, who gained national attention for his new Google Glass journalism course, and new faculty member Peggy Bustamante attended the first annual SourceCon (SRCCON) in the City of Brotherly Love this July.

The conference was organized more as a series of open discussions regarding a specific topic, rather than focusing on solving problems. Specifically for “developers, interactive designers, and other people who love to code in and near newsrooms,” the conference was two days of conversation and collaboration.

“There weren’t any answers given, it was just a fluid discussion,” Bustamante said.

Given the new curriculum developments at USC Annenberg, which include more journalism coursework in data and digital, both Hernandez and Bustamante hope more students and faculty are able to attend next year’s SRCCON and its parent conference NICAR — National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting.

“[There’s] a new required course for our graduate curriculum, which is a data journalism course,” Hernandez said. “It’s not an elective, it’s a required course that all our students, all our new M.S. students, need to take. That was one of the reasons why we wanted to go: to get an idea of what was out there and … build the syllabus for that course.”

Representing USC Annenberg, and journalism and communications schools in general, the two professors advocated for greater diversity in newsrooms and stronger collaboration between mediums.

“There was a session on diversity in the news nerd area of the journalism world; which is an issue close to my heart,” Bustamante said. “Journalism has a diversity problem. Technology has a diversity problem. And then you put them together and you have a really bad problem.”

Though much of SRCCON’s attendees hailed from Brooklyn, a number of influential media organizations — from the New York Times to NPR — were in attendance, Hernandez noted.

Beyond vocalizing their concerns about diversity in the journalism and technology worlds, Bustamante said there were a number of conversations about the newsroom itself. Apps have become ever more common with the growth of smart phones and tablets as primary technologies for news consumption. Hernandez even jokingly tweeted about the integration of apps into news gathering and reporting.


It seems unlikely that Tinder is the answer. That said, there were many serious discussions and exercises on the organization of the digital newsroom: who is present, what is their role, etc. Given USC Annenberg’s new, digitally-focused Wallis Annenberg Hall, Bustamante thought of the converged media center and learning labs.

“There were discussions about how to redesign a new newsroom, how to take an old school newsroom into the new digital age,” Bustamante said. “Which I think is particularly important because we are opening that new media center which is a full on step into merging all of the different media and moving into a digital area.”

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Annenberg Faculty Bring Hollywood, Augmented Reality to AEJMC Conference in Montreal

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Professor Joe Saltzman

Each year, the best and brightest minds in the world of journalism and media convene at The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) Conference. And, as always, USC Annenberg will be well-represented at the 2014 gathering.

Several Annenberg faculty members including Professors Joe Saltzman, Bill Celis, Mike Ananny, Jerry SwerlingFelix Guitierrez, Kjerstin Thorson and Aimei Yang will be among the more than 2,000 attendees at this year’s conference August 6-9 in Montréal, Canada.

“It is the only place where you can meet and talk with journalism and communication educators and media scholars on a personal, professional and academic basis,” Saltzman said of the conference. “It is a marvelous opportunity to see how other schools of journalism tackle curriculum problems, research, publication and tenure problems, and the future of journalism in these changing times.”

During the three day conference, Professor Felix Gutierrez will present on the panel “Minority Scholars Forging Ahead In Academia: Guidance from Communication Theories, Research Findings and Personal Experiences,” while Saltzman will present on a panel about the pros and cons of embedding pro-social messages in entertainment. Past Annenberg faculty presentation topics have included public relations, entertainment studies, LGBT issues and more.

“Since USC Annenberg is a leader in many of these fields, we have a chance to share ways of doing things that are unique and interesting to academics,” Saltzman said. “The AEJMC conference gives us a chance to exchange ideas, opinions, concepts with journalism scholars from around the world.”

Saltzman, who is the director of the Norman Lear Center’s Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture (IJPC) Project, has helped contribute to the IJPC panel’s which have become a popular fixture at the annual conferences since the Project’s founding in 2000.

This year, Saltzman didn’t have the time to create an IJPC panel as he was co-writing the book “Heroes & Scoundrels: The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture” due out next year, but saw speaking on the ““Opportunities and Challenges of Entertainment-Education Interventions for Global Justice” panel as a way to draw attention to the work of another Norman Lear Center program, Hollywood, Health & Society (H,H&S.)

“[H,H&S] works behind the scenes as program consultants on dozens of critically acclaimed television shows to ensure that health storylines are depicted as accurately as possible,” Saltzman said. “These American shows have a global following and health messages embedded into these programs have an effect all over the planet. Through the IJPC, I have seen first-hand the opportunities and challenges of entertainment-education interventions for global justice in a variety of fields.”

Professor Robert Hernandez.

Professor Robert Hernandez

Annenberg Professors Kjerstin Thorson and Aimei Yang will also contribute to interest groups and research sessions at the conference, Professors Jerry Swerling and Mike Ananny presented a panel, and Professor Robert Hernandez will receive a second-place Best of the Web Award for his ARchive LAPL project (though he will not be in attendance).

Designed by a class of seven undergraduate and graduate students under Hernandez’s leadership last fall, the ARchive LAPL project is an Augmented Reality (AR) iPhone application called Junaio which, when used at the Los Angeles Central Library in conjunction with the iPhone camera, pulls up historical and architectural information about the library including news articles and photos.

“We looked at how how this new emerging technology that takes advantage of a smartphone or potentially a wearable device can really elevate the concept of contextual storytelling for journalism,” Hernandez said of the Augmented Reality course, which was taught for the first time at USC last year. “It knows where you are and what you’re looking at and has the power of the internet, and we wanted to combine that for a new way of storytelling.”

Given the success of the application, as well as favorable feedback from City Hall, Hernandez will teach another Augmented Reality course in the spring and hopes to be able to apply the same innovative technology to augment other Los Angeles landmarks.

Hernandez received a second and third-place award at last year’s AEJMC conference for his work with Professor Gutierrez on the Ruben Salazar Project, and plans to submit more work in the future, furthering enriching USC Annenberg’s fifteen-year history with the AEJMC conference.

The AEJMC is a nonprofit education association whose mission is to provide media professionals, educators and students with resources to advance education, research and professional practice about journalism and mass communication.

“For me personally, the AEJMC has made it possible for me to turn the image of the journalist in popular culture into a worldwide discipline recruiting faculty and students from around the world to think about this subject,” Saltzman said. “Without the AEJMC conference, there would have been no efficient way to reach all of these people and to explain to them, through my panels and video compilations, through meetings and social exchanges, through personal and professional contacts, what the IJPC is and why it is important.  For me and the IJPC, the AEJMC conference has been one of the most valuable ways of extending the USC Annenberg brand throughout academia.”

Though this year’s conference attendance was somewhat smaller than in years past due to the current flurry of activity and exciting changes at USC Annenberg, faculty presence at the conference is still strong, and Saltzman hopes for even greater Annenberg representation at next year’s AEJMC Conference in San Francisco.

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Dean Wilson and Dean Cowan celebrate progress of Wallis Annenberg Hall

Dean Ernest J. Wilson, III and Dean Geoffrey Cowan at Wallis Annenberg Hall on July 22, 2014.

Dean Ernest J. Wilson, III and Dean Geoffrey Cowan at Wallis Annenberg Hall on July 22, 2014 (Brett Van Ort/USC Annenberg.)

USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson, III and former Dean Geoffrey Cowan met recently to celebrate the impending completion of the new Wallis Annenberg Hall, which will officially open to students, faculty and staff this fall.

The two Deans are also teaching a class together this fall; ASCJ 100: The Changing World of Communications and Journalism.

All photos by Brett Van Ort.

 

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