Tag Archives: CWA

On Track Podcast: Episode 20

This month’s edition of On Track, the podcast series from the School of Communication, Writing and the Arts, discusses the Student Salon with students Kimber Starnes and Bryan Starry.

The two artists discuss their work on display at the Gordon Parks Gallery in the Library and Learning Center, Saint Paul Campus, as well as their individual journey as artists, and how they’ve gotten their art sold via the Metro State Art Buy.

On Track informs the larger university community and the public about programs, events, activities, and research in the School of Communication, Writing and the Arts.

The podcast can be streamed on both iTunes and Spreaker. We encourage you to give us a listen and to subscribe to the podcast.



Why study public relations?

An assumption about public relations is that it tends to focus on one segment of the industry—PR agencies that distort or conduct damage control for the benefit of an organization and the expense of the public.

But good PR has a relationship with the public that is mutually beneficial, transparent and open. In fact, the official definition of the industry by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)—the largest non-profit trade association for PR professionals— is, “public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

“Just like anywhere in the United States there’s not an organization that exists that does not have a need for communications, so the job opportunities are vast,” Metropolitan State University professor Rose McKinney said. And according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics the increase in social media use will bolster the field’s job numbers, so employment outlook is promising.

It’s a tough field that requires a curious mind. “It’s pretty much impossible to succeed in public relations unless you are committed to lifelong learning,” McKinney said. “Things change so quickly—there’s new information all the time.”

Metropolitan State University has a vibrant public relations major. Some of the classes taken for a PR major are COM 381, COM 385 and COM 481. Of the required classes, COM 381: Principals of Public Relations is an introductory course that defines PR, the planning process behind it and the ability it has to solve problems and provide opportunities to organizations. Over the length of the class, students will work on a major project that requires students to present a completed plan at a conference near the end of the semester. Guest speakers frequent the class and offer students the opportunity to network and learn about the field.

COM 385: Media Relations
, underlines the importance of stories created by the media and how PR can contribute to it. Students are taught how to identify newsworthy items or make them. To accomplish this, students are given tools and shown standard practices. The course also teaches students the importance of building relationships in the organizations they work in. These relationships can help PR professionals find newsworthy items and quickly disseminate them to the media. Finally, students learn how openness, transparency and a mutually beneficial relationship with the public are staples of the field.

COM 481: Advanced Public Relations
studies the importance of research in PR—the backbone of the profession. The course covers persuasive theories and techniques used in creating a PR campaign. Students also learn about ethics in PR, its historical significance and its current application in the field.

“It’s not a matter of if you face a crisis, most organizations will face some kind of crisis whether it is cyber-terrorism, whether it’s a fire; it could be a disgruntled employee, or a smear campaign on social media, and you need to have a good basis in the principal of public relations,” McKinney said. In other words, everyone can benefit from public relations.

“Public relations comes back more to what is the overarching brand message and how we are building a reputation—what are the activities we are involved in and what is the status of the relationships,” McKinney said.

PR can even help you land a promotion, develop your ideas and reinforce success. So what are you waiting for? Ask your advisor how PR can benefit you.

Internship: SCWA’s podcast, “On Track”

Professor Anne Aronson is running a podcast internship during fall 2016. The internship involves working on the podcast series, “On Track.” The podcast is designed to raise awareness about the programs,activities, accomplishments and newsworthy events in the School of Communication, Writing and the Arts (SCWA) at Metropolitan State University.

The intern works with Aronson to identify interesting stories, and then contacts interviewees, conducts and records the interviews, edits the podcast, publishes it on the hosting site and helps circulate the link. Podcasting is a booming business right now, with increasingly more news and arts organizations, corporations, non-profits and educational institutions jumping on the bandwagon.

This unpaid internship can be three or four credits (120 or 160 hours). While some daytime hours are required to interview sources, the schedule is flexible. The intern should be available to record interviews at the Center for Online Learning at Metropolitan State’s Midway Campus.

Requirements: The intern should be familiar with, or should be able to quickly learn, an audio editing program like Adobe Audition, Audacity, or Garage Band. Strong oral and written communication skills are required. Experience with interviewing or recording audio is a plus.

Application: Applicants should submit a resume and a statement of why they are interested in this internship and how their experience might be a good fit. Send these via e-mail to anne.aronson@metrostate.edu.

Application due date: Aug. 5, 2016.

Associate Professor David Means wins McKnight Fellowship

The American Composers Forum (ACF) awarded six composers this year’s McKnight Composition Fellowships, funded by the McKnight Foundation. The awards include $25,000 in unrestricted funds for each recipient and acknowledge excellence in the field of music composition.

David Means

Recipient David Means, associate professor, Communication, Writing and the Arts Department, was born on the same day the sound barrier was broken. He studied architecture and music composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, integrating aspects of invented notation into sculptural scores and performance installations. His music has been presented at such places as the New Music America Festivals (Minneapolis, Hartford, Houston), Dance Theater Workshop, Experimental Intermedia and the Roulette Performance Series (New York City).

Means’ works have been exhibited and presented by the Walker Art Center, Documenta IX (Kassel), the Xi An Conservatory of Music (China), Het Stroomhuis (Holland), Logos Foundation (Belgium) and the Serpentine Gallery (London). Since 2012 he has participated in the annual Echofluxx Festivals of New Media, Art and Music in Prague. He is currently Director of the Echofluxx Ensemble (Prague) and an Associate Professor of Music and Intermedia Art at Metropolitan State.

Means is joined by three other composers from Minnesota and two visiting composers from New York:

Asako Hirabayashi, Falcon Heights, Minn.
Sergey Khvoshchinsky, Ham Lake, Minn.
Joko Sutrisno, Saint Paul, Minn.
Wang Jie, New York, N.Y.
Peter Michael von der Nahmer, Ozone Park, N.Y.

Learn more about the other recipients and David Means’ work.


Founded on the belief that Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive, The McKnight Foundation’s arts program is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Support for individual working Minnesota artists has been a cornerstone of the program since it began in 1981. The McKnight Artist Fellowships Program provides annual, unrestricted cash awards to outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists in 10 different creative disciplines. Program partner organizations administer the fellowships and structure them to respond to the unique challenges of different disciplines. Currently the foundation contributes about $1.7 million per year to its statewide fellowships.ACF_logo_spot

The ACF is committed to supporting composers and developing new markets for their music. Founded in 1973, the organization has grown from an innovative regional initiative into one of the nation’s premier composer service organizations. ACF boasts a worldwide membership of over 2,000 artists, organizations and community members.


New Student Senate looks toward the future

Spring semester was the last time we saw the student senate members that Metropolitan State has known for years. These members, along with the rest of the senate, can authorize the use of university funds for student-led organizations and even wield clout in some decisions made by the university.

The new parking ramp, student center and science education center at the Saint Paul Campus are just a few things the senate helped bring to life, in addition to many more achievements under their belts.

Although many of the senate members have now graduated and are moving on, Metropolitan State will not forget the time and effort they spent making tough decisions. The university community thanks those who are leaving, and those still remaining, for their work.

Leaving this year are President Matt Rubel, Vice President Brian Wermerskirchen, Treasurer Rico Lopez, Fatima Ali, Jonathan Carver, Jenny Chhoun, Sarah Leistico, Sabat Omer and Bukola Oriola.

Also acknowledged are these remaining students in the Student Senate for their continued service: Secretary Burak Tekin, Samira Adam, Francis Kuteesa, Amber Hamm, Linna Ahmado, John Patterson and Grace Alexander.

The final meeting for the roster took place on May 20 and could be seen as a changing of the guard with both old and new senators attending. This was the outgoing members’ final hurrah before their seats end in two weeks, and one of few opportunities for them to show the newcomers the ropes.

“Right now, the outgoing senators want to make sure the incoming senators know enough about the process,” said incoming Vice President Burak Tekin regarding the transition. Tekin will also help mentor the new members, to ensure this information is carried over. Tekin was somber, yet positive at the transition.

“It was bittersweet seeing the senators leave because some of them have great leadership skills that will definitely be missed, and we will feel a hole for a while,” Tekin said. “But it’s also good when people leave so new people can come in and new ideas can come in, so I see this as a turning point.”

The senate executive board has also changed, with current Secretary Tekin succeeding Adam Wermerskirchen as vice president and Samira Adam succeeding Rico Lopez as treasurer. The new student senate president is Dhibo Hussein, with Heather Moenck as the new public relations director and Nichole Schooley as the new engagement coordinator.

The president, along with nearly three-quarters of the delegate body, is new. Asked about what current issues they intend to tackle, Sen. John Patterson said community engagement is key.

“One thing that is really important is reaching out to the community, making sure we build those ties and listen to the community and their concerns with Metropolitan State and make sure they’re not disconnected.” Patterson also said the Senate is currently examining the payment strategy for the new parking ramp.

Even in their last meeting, the members of the student senate were seen hard at work. They delegated funding approval for student organizations and congratulated each other for a job well done. The university wishes them luck in their future endeavors.

To learn more, visit the Student Senate OrgSync page.


James La Motte



James LaMotte is a CWA Intern. He is a senior in the Professional Writing program at Metropolitan State University and anticipates graduation in December 2016. His interests are in literature, video games, and dog training.

Take Writing II online this summer

The Communication, Writing and the Arts Department is adding WRIT 231-51: Writing II to the second summer session. This online course is taught by Michael Miller and runs July 5–Aug. 15.

In Writing II, students learn strategies to critically analyze a variety of texts and essays; to understand how audience and social/cultural factors shape writing; and to research, evaluate, interpret, paraphrase, quote and summarize texts. Students write and revise several papers and critique the work of other students.

Register now through eServices.

Craig Hansen named College of Liberal Arts dean

Craig Hansen

Craig Hansen, professor and chair, Communication, Writing and the Arts (CWA) Department, has accepted a two-year interim appointment as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, effective July 1. Hansen has been a faculty member at Metropolitan State for 23 years.

Since coming to Metro, he has served two terms as chair of CWA and a term as co-chair of the Writing Department. Hansen has also been the director of the MS in Technical Communication since 1999. He received his undergraduate and M.A. degrees from the University of Illinois–Urbana and his PhD from the University of Minnesota.

“Dr. Hansen commands the respect of his peers and colleagues and I am impressed with his strategic thinking and interpersonal skills,” said Ginny Arthur, executive vice president and provost. “The academic deans, AVP of enrollment management, the dean of students and I are excited to welcome Dr. Hansen to the Academic and Student Affairs leadership team.”


New CWA podcast episode features Black Storytellers Alliance president

Nothando Zulu

In the latest episode of On Track, the podcast from the Communications, Writing and the Arts (CWA) Department, Nothando Zulu, the president and director of the Black Storytellers Alliance (BSA), discusses the history of the BSA and their recent partnership with Metropolitan State for the Big Read. Zulu has been a member of the BSA since it was founded in 1976.

Listen to or download the episode here.

On Track, created by Anne Aronson, professor, CWA, features short conversations that highlight program offerings, upcoming events and trends and topics in the communication field. You can download episodes from iTunes U or listen online at Spreaker.