Commentary: Mass Communication Department, UNIZIK At 25

Commentary: Mass Communication Department, UNIZIK At 25

TDPel News – It is with a heart full of joy that the staff, Alumni and students of the Department of Mass Communication, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka is celebrating the 25th anniversary of their Department today.

Mass Communication Department, UNIZIK was created as a unit under the Department of Sociology in the Faculty of Social Sciences in 1992 by the then Vice Chancellor, Prof. Festus Nwako, following the proposal by Mr. Godson Okafor, now Professor, of the then Sociology Department.

Mr. Anthony Uzochukwu John-Kamen (now late), an England-trained Artist and Communication Expert, was appointed to nurture the nascent Mass Communication programme in UNIZIK. Thus, Mr. John-Kamen and Mr. Okafor were the pioneer staff of the unit, while Mr. Uche Ebeze (now Professor), Dr Chinyere Stella Okunna (now Professor) and Mr. Obi Eboh (now Late) later joined as lecturers in the Mass communication unit.

By 1996, Mass Communication unit became an independent Department with Mr. John Kamen as the first Head of Department. Subsequent Heads of the Department were Prof Chinyere Okunna; Prof Kate Omenugha Prof Ifeoma Dunu; Prof Chinyere Okunna again; Uche Ebeze and Prof Chinwe Uzochukwu.

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Meanwhile, at the birth of Mass communication Department in 1996, the students formed their Students’ Union Departmental body as the Association of Mass Communication Students (ASOMACS) with. Mr. Nnaemeka Aginam elected as the pioneer president. The Association, no doubt, has continued to provide a veritable platform for socialization and leadership training for the students.

However, the nascent Mass Communication Department suffered such teething problems as poor infrastructure, shortage of staff, lack of space, including offices and classrooms for lectures, with no studios for practicals, save for a dark room where analogue photos were developed.

Happily, by 2006, Prof. Okunna attracted an endowment of a new complex to house the Department of Mass Communication, donated by Senator Andy Ubah. In 2007, the Department moved into a befitting one-story building known as Chief Phillip Ubah Mass Communication Complex, located adjacent to the Faculty of Management Sciences building near the university library.

The Department passed through series of interim accreditations from the National University Commission, earning its first full accreditation in 2007. Today, the Department boasts of a vibrant campus radio station, which also serves as a broadcast training facility, licensed in 2007. It became the best campus radio in Nigeria in 2003.

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The ever growing Mass Communication Department, UNIZIK also has more learning facilities, such as Public Relations & Advertising Laboratory, Newsroom, a well-equipped library with the annual production of a training newspaper and magazine, known as UNIZIK COMET, first published in November 1996, with Mr. Carl Ofonye as the first Editor-in-Chief and Prof Okunna as the first staff editor.

The staff strength of the Department has also received a tremendous boost with seven Professors, including the first female Professor of Mass Communication in the Sub-Saharan Africa, Prof. Stella Okunna and a host of Ph.D holders. The Department, no doubt, has produced many eminent scholars, practitioners and outstanding graduates since 1997.

Some of its graduates doing very well in different walks of life are Prof. Nnamdi Ekeanyanwu, an eminent communication scholar of international standing and the President, African Council for Communication Education; Mr. Nnaemeka Aginam, first Online Editor of Vanguard Newspaper; among many others. The Department, which floated its first post graduate programme in 1999, has also graduated many sets of masters and Ph.D Candidates since 2002.

The Silver Jubilee also features the maiden Alumni homecoming and public presentation of the Silver Jubilee edition of UNIZIK COMET Magazine, under the Chairmanship of Ifeanyi Mbanefo, as Governor Willie Obiano, the Commissioner for Basic Education, Prof Kate Omenugha, among other top government functionaries are expected to grace the event. The Vice Chancellor, Prof Charles Esimone, will be the Chief Host. The event holds today at the ASUU secretariat. Please celebrate with us.
WRITTEN BY PROF. CHINWE UZOCHUKWU

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