IU Southeast advertising program regains strength after losses, makes plans to hire new faculty

Secoy Richey, Staff

Michael Abernethy, senior lecturer of communication studies, took a crash course this summer to educate himself about the field of advertising. Since there were no advertising faculty members to fill the position of coordinator, Abernethy stepped up to the plate to keep the program alive.

The advertising program at IU Southeast was started in 1994, by Vijay Reddy, who was described by students as a passionate and caring man. Reddy passed away last fall after a terminal illness. After the passing of Reddy, the department then lost their second professor, Tae Baek, who moved to the University of Kentucky to teach the Media Graduate Program. The students of the advertising program were left shocked, heartbroken and wondering what was next.

“I can’t believe it’s been a year since he’s [Reddy] been gone; he has touched all of our lives in a way that incoming students will never experience and I really wish they could see how much of an impact he had on our program,” Tommy Thompson, account executive officer for Ad Club, said.

Abernethy said that he could not, in good conscience, let this program fade away, especially after all the hard work Reddy put in. He said his goal is to do it for the students.

“When I got the call in late summer 2013, that said Vijay [Reddy] wasn’t in the position to return, my immediate thought was the students and the program and what a void that was going to leave,” Tammy Voigt, visiting professor of advertising said. “When Baek left last spring, that left me as the only faculty member that was actually on campus teaching.”

However, Voigt said she is a visiting professor, operating on a year-by-year contract.

Voigt said she was in the position to know what the students needed, what kind of support the faculty needed to provide and understood the role the faculty played in an ad student’s life. She said her immediate priority was the students; someone had to step in to take care of the them. She said no one was more of a champion than Vijay, and it was in that spirit that she accepted to position to come back and visit this year.

Abernethy said the advertising program here has about 60 students who have declared it as their major, and more than 30 students who have shown interest. Abernethy said he is very excited and hopeful for this program and its future.

Abernethy said that some proposals have been developed for the program to give students a more in-depth ability to learn what the advertising world entails. He said they have been visiting agencies and asking them what they look for when they hire so he can prepare students, as well as, feel confident they are ready to take on such positions after graduation.

The first goal Abernethy has set for the program is to fill the two positions Reddy and Baek left behind. Currently, Tammy Voigt is the visiting professor who he says the department is lucky to have. If all goes well he is hoping to have the first position filled this year.

The second goal is to get a degree plan that really caters to students and getting jobs. The third is to make sure every student leaves with a portfolio, and the fourth is to keep getting students into internships.

“The job placement rate for the students in the program is very high, that is something we want to continue,” Abernethy said. “Most students get internships, impress the employers and then get offered jobs.”

An advertising club was started last spring for students to engage and prepare themselves for the future. The club meets once a week on campus and is always accepting new members.

“The Ad Club was started in remembrance of Vijay for his dedication to cultivating success in his student careers,” Andrew Dangler said, executive officer for Ad Club, said. “Our goal is to help students prepare for the real world through networking, resume building, internship opportunities and guest speakers.”

Ad Club can offer students ways to be involved, both on and off campus.

“We’ve shifted Ad Club to not just be all about advertising but rather incorporating all majors in communication,” Kathryn Fisher, advertising senior and media executive for Ad Club, said.

“We want to give everyone an opportunity to be part of a club thats sole focus is networking and gaining experience in their field of choice.”

Abernethy said the advertising department isn’t going anywhere even after the transitional year it’s had. He said students who are interested should attend at least one meeting to get an idea of what is offered through the program.

“The advertising program is moving in the right direction and I’m really excited about the potential faculty and the program we can build,” Abernathy said. “Any who are thinking about it, come on board; we have a great future ahead of us.”