College of Communication draws famous journalists

Esquire writer and nationally acclaimed journalist Mike Sager is one of many famous speakers recruited by the College of Communication. Photo by Martina Ibanez-Baldor/[email protected]

One of the goals of a college is to bring in speakers to enlighten their students. In that regard, Marquette’s College of Communication has been thinking big, bringing in a large number of famous speakers early this year and forecasting more in the near future.

The college has already seen three major speakers come in this fall: Peter King, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated; Mike Sager, a feature writer from Esquire; and Michael Phillips, a film critic with the Chicago Tribune.

Getting most of these speakers is more about networking than money, according to Julie Rosene, event coordinator for the College of Communication. She said students, alumni and faculty members with friends in high places make recommendations on who should come speak.

Among those faculty members are assistant professor Pamela Hill Nettleton and professional in residence Herbert Lowe, responsible for bringing Sager and Chris Broussard, last spring’s Axthelm Memorial speaker, to campus, respectively.

Variety and relevance are key.

“We’re constantly reading the papers and watching the news, seeing who’s current and who students respond to,” Rosene said.

Students make recommendations as well. Tess Quinlan, a sophomore in the College of Communication, knew Peter King from her hometown in New Jersey and asked him over the summer if he would like to speak. King had to drive to Green Bay to cover a Packers game and said he would stop by to talk to students.

The Sept. 6 event was well received.

“He loves talking to students,” Rosene said. “He spoke for an hour and then stayed afterwards meeting with students one-on-one for another hour.”

Sometimes speaking events happen spontaneously. Faculty may bring in speakers to their classes, and to make the event more significant, a reception is created so more students can have the opportunity to meet the speaker. This was the case with Michael Phillips, who was originally scheduled to speak to a class.

The College of Communication does pay airfare for speakers, and may give a small honorarium, but that amount varies.

“Some speakers will charge a larger sum, especially national speakers, but some will work with Marquette University because they want to donate their time to come speak,” said Michelle Wales, director of academic business affairs for the College of Communication.

Wales said sometimes the college is fortunate and is able to share the expense of a speaker with another department on campus or with a professional organization. This also helps increase the audience and reach of the speaker.

“Some of the best speakers may not cost a lot of money,” Wales said. “The best speakers get students engaged — that’s a worthwhile investment.”

Students appreciate the hard work that is put into finding speakers who appeal to them, said Amanda Steffens, a senior in the College of Communication.

“I think they’re entertaining if it’s something you’re interested or if you’re familiar with their stuff,” Steffens said. “Peter King coming was a big thing for me since I’m interested in sports.”

The College of Communication plans to keep the speakers coming. An Oct. 11 summit on public relations and using social media will feature speakers from Pepsi and American Eagle Outfitters. The Oct. 26 Burleigh media ethics lecture will be given by Jane McGonigal, a game designer and New York Times bestselling author.  Lastly, later this year the Nieman journalism lecture will be given by James Foley, a Marquette alumnus and GlobalPost correspondent who was abducted for six weeks in Libya. Foley’s address is set for Dec. 6, and a seminar is scheduled for Dec. 7.