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Where it all begins Dr. Perlmutter, Elizabeth Shores and Professor Nelson are all involved in the development of the certificate.

A Fresh Outlook on Journalism

A new philanthropy certificate will soon be available to students through the J-MC School.

The word “journalism” elicits an image of reporters hard at work in their field. But at The University of Iowa, journalism also paints a different picture.

Officials have been working on creating a philanthropic studies certificate within the School of Journalism and Mass Communication that, if approved, should be available for undergraduates as early as spring 2011.

“Journalism is being reinvented and a lot of what we defined as journalism will change radically,” J-MC School Director Dr. David Perlmutter said. “I think that schools of journalism and mass communication need to prepare people for modern careers in news and information and strategic communication.”

The school hopes to not only see students from the J-MC School but also those from other disciplines. Within the certificate students will be required to take 18 semester hours of philanthropy and fundraising related coursework within different fields as well as a required internship in the field of fundraising.

Last year, Kevin Gruneich (B.B.A, 1980) gave a $100,000 gift to the UI Foundation to begin this program. This gift brought Louisiana State University Professor Richard Nelson to the UI to help work on the program for the spring semester. Nelson, Perlmutter and Lecturer Ann Haugland have been working together to set up the certificate, including possible coursework.

“The proposal here is unique,” Nelson said. “Why come to Iowa? Well, you can get a good education and you can participate in a certificate program such as this. “It gives you a chance to do something that makes a difference in something you care about.”

Officials made a proposal to the Education Policy Committee (EPC), a review committee, on Feb. 15. It could be approved as soon as fall 2010. In order to have a certificate there are certain rules according to the EPC: it must have an interdisciplinary base, be at least 18 semester hours, meets an educational need and have some sort of public value. Nelson noted the proposed certificate has met those requirements.

Elizabeth Shores (senior, Cedar Rapids, Iowa) worked as a research assistant and gathered information and statistics that were used in the development of the program. She said she believes the inclusion of the program in the J-MC School is important.

“I believe that philanthropy is much more about communication and drawing people together than it is about managing money,” Shores said.

The proposed certificate is not only beneficial for the field of mass communication, but also for students at the undergraduate level who, officials believe, should have this broader experience.

“As far as I know there is no other fundraising and philanthropy communication program in a communication school within a college of liberal arts that has the broad outreach that we have at the undergraduate level,” Perlmutter said. “It’s the kind of thing that you can’t get at Harvard—that you have to come here for.”

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