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New degree program soon to be launched at WVU Parkersburg

By Lexi Carder

Students at WVU Parkersburg will soon be able to earn a new degree that corresponds with other communication degrees at the college.

The digital media production studio will be a complimentary degree program to already
existing degrees, Strategic Communication and Digital Communication, and will add a much-needed component for a new certificate and associate degree in digital media production. The full production area will allow for bands to perform and include vocal booths for individual readings or singing. The bands can either be on-air in the studio as it will be located near the radio station and connected to the radio board. Or the bands can be recorded, edited and later aired on the station.

Opportunities also exist to allow the facility to be used to create CDs, podcasts and other items that could add revenue to the digital media production program.

“Students are welcome to let their creativity flow into new projects,” Jeremy Harrison, station manager, said.

Only aired content created in the studio and shared will be required to meet all the Federal Communication Commission regulations that some of the other programs for complimentary degrees do have to meet.

“No other institution within the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia system offers a digital communication program of study nested inside a very market-friendly communication and media studies degree,” Harrison said.

Administrators have been working with local individuals in the studio businesses and instructors at the University of California in San Diego, to complete a preliminary assessment of what courses need to be added, the functions of the studio, and, most importantly, job possibilities for students.

Broadcasting and digital communication are a large industry in WVU Parkersburg’s service region. According to Nielsen, a data company, the Mid-Ohio Valley has more radio stations than New York per capita. The local market is full of digital media production and communication opportunities that still use students as interns, even offering them jobs while still students.

Several job openings in recent years have allowed students at WVU Parkersburg to find employment before graduation. This is because the skills that are being taught to students is of great benefit and cost saving to these local media outlets and companies. These types of possibilities can greatly contribute to the local economy by enhancing one of the area’s industry sectors.

“Through the Mid-Ohio Valley CTC/Tech Prep Consortium, WVU Parkersburg has the ability to collaborate with local technical centers to develop career pathways for students from the CTE to the CTC level. Students entering digital media production can begin in a technical program at the high school level and then enter the degree program at WVU Parkersburg, allowing for a seamless transition. Workforce and community education collaborations can also be developed with local employers, providing their employees both training and advancement opportunities,” Harrison said.

“WVU Parkersburg President Dr. Chris Gilmer is proposing a new way to market the community and technical college that will put students in the center. The coursework they do in this program will be utilized by the college to create real-world portfolios for the students,” Harrison said. “Local companies are attempting to hire students with these skills and are in support of a degree that will aid in creating jobs for producing commercials, streaming live video, helping clients with social media productions, photography, videography, and sound technicians/artists.”

Through this new degree program, students will also participate in the state funded Learn and Earn program, where students can receive hands-on learning experience, and employers get to train potential future employees. The participating students will intern for the marketing department at WVU Parkersburg.

The approval of the grant, in July 2019, led to immediate construction in room 2204 and the degree program will soon be running.

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