Start Your Story Here
You’re going to love the story you can create at Nebraska.
You can major in advertising and public relations, broadcasting, journalism, or sports media and communication with plenty of opportunities to take classes from all four. You can do a double major in something like history or English, political science, business or nutrition.
As a Big Ten school, Nebraska can give your life an incredible story and your story incredible life. Start here and go anywhere.
Our mission is to graduate highly competent professionals who have acquired communication and critical thinking skills appropriate to journalism and to advertising and public relations. We hold true to the core principles of journalism and mass communication education and as leaders of the digital communications environment. Our mission is grounded in the First Amendment of the Constitution, which gives us a unique responsibility to serve the needs of a diverse society. Through excellence in teaching and research, we educate ethical, socially responsible, well-rounded and fair-minded graduates who will carry those traits into the real world.
When Will Owen Jones walked into a University of Nebraska classroom in 1894 to teach the first journalism class he started a blend of professional expertise and academic excellence that continues today. Jones later became famous as editor of the Nebraska State Journal, a predecessor of the Lincoln Journal Star. The journalism courses continued to evolve until, through the leadership of English professor Miller Moore Fogg, a School of Journalism was formed in 1923. Fogg became the first director of the School of Journalism and served until his death in 1926.
Other early leaders of the program included:
- Gayle Walker, 1926-1942, who had been Fogg's assistant.
- Harold Hamil, 1942-1944, who resigned to take an editorial position with a St. Louis newspaper.
- Forest Blood, interim 1944-1946, a business professor identified with the study of advertising.
After the end of World War II, the University of Nebraska J School made several important advances:
- Dr. William Swindler was named director in 1946.
- New quarters in Burnett Hall became available in 1948.
- Advertising classes continued to be part of the curriculum in cooperation with the Business College.
- Broadcast news classes were established in cooperation with the Speech Department, which had started to offer radio courses in 1937.
When Swindler went on to become a law professor at the College of William and Mary, William Hall became director in 1956 and led the expansion of the school's curriculum:
- When KUON-TV came on the air in 1954, the public television station's facilities made it possible for the college to offer television classes.
- All broadcasting courses moved to the School of Journalism in 1963.
- The advertising sequence of courses was developed during this time,
- The news-editorial major became very successful in the national Hearst Awards competition.
These national successes resulted in a White House meeting with President Kennedy, a meeting that included Director Hall, Professor Neale Copple and several students.
Neale Copple, who had earned his undergraduate degree from NU and joined the faculty during Hall's tenure, had become a national figure with the publication of his depth reporting book. When Hall left Nebraska for Ohio State in 1966, Copple succeeded Hall and led the program through more changes and to even greater national prominence:
- The news-editorial, broadcasting and advertising majors were improved.
- Broadcasting and advertising majors joined the news-editorial majors as approved for accreditation in 1972.
- Radio station KRNU (FM) went on the air in 1970 to provide professional opportunities for broadcasting students.
- The J-School moved to three floors in Avery Hall in 1972.
In 1974 the Nebraska Legislature passed a bill authorizing a graduate program for journalism/mass communication. By 1976 the graduate courses were realities. By the 1990s, the journalism graduate program was available to professional journalists throughout the world via several satellite and Internet technologies.
In 1979 the NU Board of Regents elevated the program from department status in the College of Arts and Sciences to an independent position. Neale Copple's title was changed to dean. A 1985 adjustment in Nebraska laws that govern the University of Nebraska changed the official name to the College of Journalism. The current name, the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, was adopted in the early 1990s.
When Copple retired in 1990, Dr. Will Norton, then chair of the Department of Journalism at the University of Mississippi, became dean. Norton, who continued the emphasis on blending professional and academic expertise, led the program toward even greater involvement and influence on the national and international level.
Norton helped develop a plan to get more space and more modern facilities for the program. With the acquisition of the former Security Mutual Life building, renamed Harold and Marian Andersen Hall, the College of Journalism and Mass Communications began a new era in 2001. When Norton left Nebraska in 2009, professor Charlyne Berens served as interim dean for a year.
From 2010 to 2020, the college experienced rapid change as it grew and evolved with the industry. Gary Kebbel, whose background was in online news and whose most recent position was with the Knight Foundation, was the dean from 2010 until 2012 when he was named to head the Center for Mobile Media, a campus wide initiative at University of Nebraska–Lincoln. James O'Hanlon was then named interim dean. During his term he helped the college establish professional academic advising to support students and help them graduate from college in four years. Maria Marron was named dean in 2014. Marron bolstered the college’s advising and recruiting and increased enrollment during her time as dean. In 2016, she oversaw the college’s successful reaccreditation by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, continuing the college’s almost seven decades long history as the only accredited journalism program in Nebraska. In 2017, the college launched two new academic programs. The first is an undergraduate major in sports media and communication that provides students the opportunity to learn communication skills from across advertising and public relations, broadcasting and journalism and apply them to the sports industry. The second is a graduate certificate in public relations and social media that provides an opportunity for working professionals to graduate level skills they can immediately apply in their careers.
In 2018, Amy Struthers became interim dean. Struthers worked to connect alumni with current students and launched innovative pop-up classes to expose students to the latest industry trends. In 2019, the college launched a second graduate certificate in financial communications in partnership with the UNL College of Business.
In 2020, Shari Veil was named dean of the college.
About the Andersens
Andersen Hall is named after Harold and Marian Andersen whose gifts and support have provided many students with opportunities for education and access to state-of-the-art resources. Graduates of University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the Andersens have continued to contribute to the university as alumni, donors and heralds for community service. They have been recognized for their efforts and achievements not only in Nebraska but also around the world.
"We are particularly interested in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications because of my lifelong career in journalism, the fact that Marian is a journalism graduate of University of Nebraska–Lincoln and, more importantly, because the press - the free press - continues to be an essential part of the fabric of a free society," Harold Andersen
Harold Andersen has spent his life in an unrelenting quest to see a free press established globally and has affected political and governmental decision-making worldwide. He began working for the Omaha World-Herald in 1946 as a reporter, became assistant to the managing editor in 1958, then served successively as assistant to the president, vice president and business manager. He served as president from 1966 until 1986 and then as publisher from 1986 to 1989.
Mr. Andersen was the first American to serve as president of the International Federation of Newspaper Publishers and is the only Nebraskan to be chair and president of the American Newspaper Publishers Association. He served as a director of the Associated Press and chaired its Foreign Operations Committee and served as chairman of the World Press Freedom committee.
Marian Andersen became the first woman to head the Heartland Chapter of the American Red Cross and later served as vice chairman for the American Red Cross Board of Governors. She also served as a vice chairman of The Public Broadcasting System. Marian Andersen has received numerous honors including: the United Way Citizen of the Year; the YWCA Tribute to Women; Outstanding Alumna of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority; Outstanding Sustainer of the Junior League of Omaha; the Perry Branch Award from the NU Foundation; and the Nebraska Builders Award from the NU system in 1987. She is an honored member of the Nebraska Press Women Hall of Fame. She has co-chaired the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival and the Alexis de Toqueville Society of the United Way of the Midlands and served on the board of Nebraska Arts Council, Opera Omaha, YWCA and the Nebraska State Historical Society.