Topics: College of Communication Information and Media, Indianapolis Center

February 8, 2008

Ball State's journalism department and School of Extended Education have expanded the reach of the university's popular master of arts in public relations program to Indianapolis.

The degree granting program was approved for Ball State's education center in Fishers by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, but it also allows classes to be taught at the Ball State Indianapolis Center, 50 S. Meridian St.

The graduate program has been expanded in an effort to better serve the needs of working public relations professionals and to complement the significant growth the public relations industry is experiencing in Indianapolis, said Robert Pritchard, sequence coordinator for public relations at Ball State.

"We want students in our graduate programs to have the benefit of our entire public relations faculty," he said. "This is ideal because we will always have one of our four dedicated faculty members — who have more than 60 years of corporate experience —teaching classes in Indianapolis and on our main campus."

Ball State recently hired Jeff Newton as the primary instructor at the Indianapolis Center. Newton brings more than 20 years of corporate public relations experience to the position. His background includes serving as director for global product communications and media relations for Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, as senior director of public relations for Medtronic in Minneapolis and as public affairs manager for Abbott Laboratories in Chicago.

"I am personally honored to be joining Ball State and believe my professional experience and strong network of contacts will help continue the development of this excellent program," Newton said. "The public relations program at Ball State is already very strong and has produced many excellent graduates who have gone on to outstanding professional careers."

Newton intends to use multiple case studies in the classroom, including many from his own experience in areas such as strategic planning, product launches, crisis communications, issues management and media relations.

"A real advantage our students will have is a program focused on more professional projects versus a standard thesis approach," said Pritchard. "Another advantage is having a specific public relations degree because we are one of a few institutions in the country that offer it."

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By Jody Kress