Ball State University’s College of Communication, Information, and Media (CCIM) empowers the next generation of storytellers. They sort through the daily flood of information — emails, texts, social media posts, etc. — and put it into context. Students learn how to build a world of meaning.

CCIM graduates serve their communities as journalists, graphic artists, photographers, videographers, directors, producers, news executives, sales representatives, consultants, information and communication technology managers, and attorneys, among other professions. Its approximately 16,000 alumni include reality TV producer Dwight Smith, Freedom Forum Institute President and Chief Operating Officer Gene Policinski, Emmy-winning sports reporter and entrepreneur Betsy Ross, sports journalist Jason Whitlock, Time magazine designer Chelsea Kardokus, Telemundo reporter Alberto Pimienta, MailChimp senior marketing manager Jason Maldonado, Salesforce vice president Karen Mangia, and of course, retired “Late Show” host David Letterman.

As Ball State’s Centennial Celebration continues, CCIM Dean Paaige Turner sat down with Ball State Magazine to reflect on the college’s proud past and bright future.

Which three of CCIM’s accomplishments are you most proud of?

 When the college was established in 1996, the University recognized our departments had a synergy to bring to communication, information, and media. It was an acknowledgement of the role of communication in our society and a commitment to how we can better understand the world we live in.

CCIM Dean Paaige Turner

CCIM Dean Paaige Turner

The creation of the Letterman Building in 2007 provided a continuous space for learning. Our students have access to state-of-the-art facilities and technology from day one in spaces such as the Unified Media Lab in the Art and Journalism Building, radio and postproduction studios in the Letterman Building, and the large green screen studios in Ball Communication Building.

More important, these spaces allow our students to collaborate across disciplines and grow in the professions they want to join. In CCIM, you might see a communication studies major work with a telecommunications major to produce a film about a father and son relationship. A magazine writer might work with a videographer for an article published in print and online.

CCIM students have produced significant, award-winning work during our University’s 100-year history. Today, students create excellent news stories and magazine articles, advertisements, and documentaries. They win national speech and debate competitions.

What three initiatives are you most looking forward to?

The Career Center’s Skills Infusion Program matches individual faculty members with alumni employers to discuss how to incorporate transferable skills, such as teamwork and leadership, as learning outcomes in their courses. At CCIM, we will pilot an initiative to scale this partnership up to the college level.

Complementing our work with the Career Center, we also will strengthen ties with industry partners and alumni and help our students put their experience into the employment context. In addition to having our students know how to use the latest technology, we empower them to adapt to opportunities that have yet to be created.

I am glad our University adopted a test optional policy and removed an unwarranted barrier to some talented, hard-working students. High school GPA is a better predictor of success in college than test scores. Our students are quality performers in high school but not always expert test takers. What they accomplish in high school is more relevant to the work they will do in our college.

What are three facets of CCIM people should know?

We are always connected to community. One of many examples is an immersive learning experience called Harvesting Hope: A Yearlong Food Storytelling Project. Journalism students partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana, the FarmishedMuncie’s Food Hub Partnership, and local elementary schools to explore the intersection of food and story.

Our close student–faculty ties often last decades after graduation. David Letterman said Professor Darrell Wible, who taught at Ball State for 25 years, mentored him and changed his life. Mr. Letterman’s experience is typical of what I hear from alumni.

Erika Espinoza, ’17

Graduate assistant Tiffany Watt, ’16, and journalism faculty Ryan Sparrow and Jennifer Palilonis get a guided tour from Erika Espinoza, ’17, of the website she helped design that was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting. Erika is a journalism graduate student. Read more about her achievement.

In addition to being mentors, Ball State faculty are world-class scholars whose research contributes to society’s overall understanding of how we communicate. For example, CCIM professors have examined the relationship between culture and media, doctor–patient communication, and individuals’ psychological responses to advertising. They have also studied digital media convergence in video games, DVDs, and social media.

Every day, how and why we communicate evolves; so does the scholarship of CCIM faculty. Our professors look toward the future to create and share knowledge both in and outside of the classroom to improve our relationships and lives.

How does CCIM encourage students to live the Beneficence Pledge?

At Ball State, we empower students with the passion and purpose to seek meaning grounded in our University’s enduring values, symbolized by Beneficence: excellence, innovation, courage, integrity, inclusiveness, social responsibility, and gratitude.

In the Freedom Bus immersive learning experience, for example, about 80 students worked to convert a retired Muncie city bus into a mobile museum highlighting the civil rights movement in east central Indiana.

How does CCIM empower students?

In CCIM, we treat our students as colleagues, both guided and supported by faculty. That is one reason they win awards, sometimes competing in categories for professionals. Their accomplishments include winning the Pulitzer Prize while still in school, covering the Olympics alongside professional journalists, and starting a Ball State chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

What would you like to highlight for the Centennial?

As our University celebrates its Centennial, I am proud of CCIM’s past and its legacy of award-winning accomplishments by students, faculty, staff, and alumni. And I am optimistic about our bright future, one in which we collaborate on solutions to complex problems from many different perspectives.