Medill faculty approve school’s name change

Sammy Caiola

Medill faculty members voted earlier this month in favor of changing the name of the Medill School of Journalism to “The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications,” professors confirmed last week.

The change, approved by a 38-5 vote, will now be sent to the Board of Trustees for approval this spring.

Conversations about changing Medill’s name have been ongoing for years, due in part to concern from the Medill administration that the term “journalism” does not encompass everything the school offers. Medill has a long history of offering programs in journalism and marketing, the second of which eventually became the Integrated Marketing Communications certificate program, Medill Dean John Lavine said.

Lavine said he held meetings with students, faculty, alumni, local employers and the advisory board for each degree Medill offers to discuss what the proposal should look like.

“Everybody agreed without discussion that we cherish Medill and the name journalism and we always will,” Lavine said. “We decided not to change the name of the school, but we would just include what we’re doing. We do journalism and we do marketing and we do communication.”

Some IMC students said they are in favor of a name change because “school of journalism” does not adequately describe their field.

“I dig it,” IMC graduate student Nick Schreiber said. “I know how great the Medill name is for journalists and I would love to transfer that brand to our program. The name change would be the first step.”

A new logo, if it is passed, will include the word “Medill” in about two-thirds of the space, with “Northwestern University” below it and “Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications” on the bottom, Lavine said.

“For a very long time, the name Medill has appeared without Northwestern and Northwestern has appeared without Medill,” Lavine said. “We’re really proud of this institution that is our home so we need to be certain that we always have Northwestern and Medill together. They add to each other and each one becomes stronger.”

Medill, which opened in 1921, is named after Joseph Medill, one of the founding editors of the Chicago Tribune and former mayor of Chicago.

Prof. Douglas Foster, who teaches journalism, said the name change proposal was a major component of two different faculty meetings and that there have been “two competing interests.” One is that the name should encompass all of the school’s programs. The other is that a change will not accurately represent the school, Foster said.

“There was concern that it would mute and muddy exactly what the school is,” he said. “But the opinion of the dean is that it actually will clarify it.”

That would seem to continue an ongoing dispute within Medill over the school’s focus on marketing.

Medill journalism graduate student Ryan Craggs said the change seems “cosmetic” and institutional, and reflects the dean’s background and interests.

“He’s a marketer,” he said. “My concern is how much they’re thinking about our future as opposed to the future of the school itself. The two are not mutually exclusive.”

Prof. Larry Stuelpnagel, who teaches journalism with an emphasis on broadcast journalism, said the name change reflects both the school’s history and its adaptation for the future.

“We’re still going to be the Medill School of Journalism, but this reflects 21st-century media,” he said.

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Note: The original version of this story misstated the proposed new name for Medill. The proposal calls for the school to be named “TheMedill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.” The Daily regrets the error.