December 15, 2016

Giving the Gift of Experience

The bell above Carver Hall recently rang to mark two milestone gifts that will support student experiences in the College of Liberal Arts and to celebrate the impact these gifts will have on our students and the Bloomsburg University community.

Jason Genovese, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Mass Communications, will begin working with students to create professionally produced video projects thanks to a major gift from Steph Pettit ’89 designated to establish the Bloomsburg University Production Company. 

David Magolis, Ph. D., associate professor of mass communications, was recently chosen to receive the Kerby Confer Faculty Fellowship for Mass Communications. Dr. Magolis plans to use the funding from the fellowship to transform WBUQ, Bloomsburg University’s student-run radio station, into a professional media environment that will help provide students with the tools they need for a career in the radio industry.

Each contribution was made through the It’s Personal campaign with the specific intent of helping faculty members by providing them with the necessary funding to create new, high-impact experiential learning opportunities for their students.

Expanding on Opportunities

Dr. Genovese was inspired to create an in-house video production studio for BU students after working with a friend to produce a documentary on Berwick High School Football Coach George Curry. The pair shared the documentary at a variety of local venues and were pleased with the positive feedback and reviews they received on their work.

Though Dr. Genovese was very happy with how the documentary turned out, he felt there was a missed opportunity to have students assist with the production of the piece. That’s when he developed the idea to create a student video production company, but he knew the project would need some financial support to get off the ground.

He shared the documentary with Steph Pettit, who was in town for homecoming weekend. “When Steph saw the piece, he loved it,” said Dr. Genovese. “I wondered if he might be interested in supporting opportunities for students to work on similar video productions.” That was when Dr. Genovese introduced the idea to Pettit, which he responded to with great enthusiasm and agreed to support immediately.

“I know Steph is passionate about supporting Bloomsburg University students, and I think he recognized the additional value something like this would offer,” Dr. Genovese added. “It will allow them to produce professional videos and help them to build a working portfolio.”

A Natural Transformation

The gift to establish the Kerby Confer Fellowship for Mass Communications grew organically from the progressive success and student involvement in the Confer Radio Talent Institute, which was also created through a gift from Kerby Confer.

Once Dr. Magolis realized that more and more students were becoming excited about working in radio, he approached Mr. Confer with the idea of turning the campus radio station into a radio learning lab for BU students. Confer was just as excited about the idea as Dr. Magolis and the students were.

“We had the opportunity right here on campus to expose our students to the variety of career opportunities within the radio industry,” Dr. Magolis said. “By transforming the radio station from a club to a more professionalized setting, we can begin to prepare them for the broadcasting industry through hands-on experiences.”

Mr. Confer’s donation will also be used to support student trips to professional conferences and create scholarship positions within the Executive Staff of WBUQ. Through these positions, students will develop a format for the station and build a structure of leadership and staff who will focus on promoting the station and growing its audience.

Connecting Passion with Success

“We are very excited about these gifts and what they will mean to our students and to the future of our college,” said Dr. Jim Brown, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “The strength of the mass communications department lies largely in its commitment to providing students with hands-on experiences. These gifts are a recognition and expansion on that commitment that will allow us to reach more students on a deeper level.”

Since the public launch of the It’s Personal campaign, there has been a major emphasis on creating gifts that support the university’s Professional U initiative and its comprehensive goal of providing students with one professional experience each year leading to graduation. Pettit’s and Confer’s gifts will provide financial support that will allow BU mass communications students to take advantage of real-world experiences. 

“These gifts create the perfect opportunity to help our faculty develop the kind of high-impact experiences we want to provide to our students,” said Erik Evans, vice president of university advancement. “They also align with another major goal of the It’s Personal campaign, which is learning what our donors are passionate about and linking that passion to strategic initiatives that have a lasting and meaningful impact.”

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