Preparing for the Fall 2020 Semester 

Preparing for the Fall 2020 Semester 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020 - 3:45pm

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications will welcome students back to Andersen Hall for the fall 2020 semester. The college has been hard at work updating our facilities, policies and procedures to ensure a safe learning environment.  

"The college remains committed to providing students with hands-on learning that will prepare them for their future careers," said Shari Veil, Dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. "The faculty and staff have come together to prepare a flexible fall semester for our students." 

Planning began on April 24, 2020, when University President Ted Carter announced that on-campus classes would resume in the fall. The College created a committee of faculty and staff to address issues related to the student experience, classes, facilities, technology and personal safety. The committee immediately dug in and got to work.

Andersen Hall Lobby
The lobby of Andersen Hall under construction in July 2020.

Before the pandemic hit, the College was planning several projects in the building during the summer and decided to continue despite the disruption. Rogge Construction swung the first blow in July on a plan to renovate the lobby to Andersen Hall to create a welcome and inviting atmosphere for prospective and current students. The lobby will feature generous digital displays that honor the history of journalism in Nebraska, recognize our alumni and donors and display our outstanding student work. The renovation of four classrooms also started in July. The project will provide state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment to enhance the student learning experience. 

In response to the pandemic, the Fall planning committee created socially distanced seating in every classroom and installed webcams and microphones for students who may need to participate remotely during the semester.  Their work was completed and verified for occupancy earlier this month. 

Students in journalism and mass communications need access to audio and video studios, and this fall will be no different. All our media facilities will be open to students. Occupancy has been modified to ensure safety. Additionally, cleaning tools and disposable barriers, such as keyboard and microphone covers, will be provided throughout the studios for use by students.  

While building modifications and renovations got underway, the CoJMC faculty got to work preparing their classes. They developed plans to employ several flexible instruction models to ensure that all students will have the opportunity to participate in class and gain on-campus learning experiences. Using software and technology, many faculty will adopt a hi-flex model of instruction, delivering lecturers and course content online, and using in-class time for hands-on experiences and in-depth discussions.

Classroom 114
A socially distanced classroom in Andersen Hall.

Hands-on instruction often requires the use of photo and video equipment. The College provides students with access to cameras, video cameras, lights, tripods and other equipment free of charge through the CoJMC Checkout Room. This fall, the Checkout Room will be open to students. Plexiglass has been installed, and cleaning procedures have been implemented to ensure student safety and allow in-person operations to continue. Additionally, the Checkout Room will allow for checkout through an open Zoom room for students who would prefer to remain at a distance. Students will be able to pick up their equipment in Andersen Hall if they choose to use the virtual checkout. 

Student opportunities in the College will also continue. Using a combination of in-person socially distanced and virtual events and meetings, our student clubs will offer students the opportunity to gain skills and network with industry professionals. 

"Though the pandemic has forced the UNL PRSSA Chapter to shift the conventional structure of in-person meetings to a hybrid of online meetings and in-person events, we are still prioritizing our commitment to help students broaden their networks, enhance their education and launch their careers," said Jemalyn Griffin, assistant professor of practice and faculty adviser for the UNL Public Relations Student Society of America. 

Next, the College will help prepare students to return to campus. All current students and their parents are to attend a series of town hall meetings with Dean Veil and CoJMC faculty and staff during the last week of July. 

Additional information about the College's plans for the Fall 2020 semester is available on our website at https://journalism.unl.edu/fall-2020-cojmc