School of Communication receives $200,000 Davis Grant, plans to improve technology and curricula


Emerson’s School of Communication received a $200,000 grant in July for undergraduate programs, which it plans to allocate to faculty projects and an upcoming school-wide restructuring, according to Phillip Glenn, the interim dean of the school of communication.

The Davis Grant, awarded through the Davis Educational Foundation, will be dispersed across the School of Communication’s four departments: communication sciences and disorders, communication studies, journalism, and marketing communication. This is not the first time Emerson has received the honor — the college also won the award 10 years ago, said Glenn. 

This time, the communication school won the grant after Glenn said he and his colleagues decided to apply last spring, so he could continue to upgrade the departments.

“We wanted to update the course curriculum by including work between professors and students and with the latest technology,” said Glenn. “We also just hope to review, propose, and reimagine communication education at Emerson College.”

These alterations will take place through the school’s Sustainable Innovation Project, which Glenn said the school began planning last spring, and will create a new structure and culture throughout the school.

According to Glenn, the project is still being developed, but will consist of three stages focused on revising the school’s curriculum and better incorporating new technologies. Each stage will be led by eight people: staff from the School of Communication, Dean of Students Ronald Ludman, and members from Instructional Technology.

Freshman Emma Glassman-Hughes, a political communication major, is hoping that the grant will allow the school to bring in more guests to individual classrooms.

“I’d want [Emerson] to bring in more industry professionals to talk about opportunities after graduation,” she said.

Glenn said he will attempt to be transparent about the project so Emerson students can keep up with its progress. Administrators from the communication school will have meetings throughout the school year, which are used to discuss what faculty in the School of Communication would like to see in the future. Previous sessions directly related to the Davis Grant have highlighted, for example, the need for more hands-on, collaborative work between students and professors.

“We’re trying to combine regular, semester-long classes with some parts where, instead of a semester-long class, we have a team of faculty and students working intensely together on a project,” Glenn said.

Tatiana Motevalli-Olliner, a senior marketing communication major, said her interests have been underrepresented in the curriculum.

“I specifically want to do nonprofit work, and there are only two classes I can take to address it,” she said.  “I would love to see them add more options.”

Though plans are not yet complete, Donna Heiland, vice president and special assistant to President M. Lee Pelton, said she has high hopes for the School of Communication’s projects, and looks forward to seeing what the group can achieve.

“The project has a great leader in [Glenn] and I’m confident it will be implemented as planned,” said Heiland. “It is important and exciting work, and it’s great to see it get this level of recognition from such a significant external funding agency.”


Assistant News Editor Martha Schick contributed to this article.