For prospective University at Albany journalism students…

     The Journalism Department at the University at Albany in Albany, New York was founded in 1973, by a man named William Rowley who was former editor of the Knickerbocker Press and he retired in 1984. Another important person in the role of the journalism program was William Kennedy, author and professor, who worked with Rowley from the beginning, and until 1982.
     Professor Rowley said the stated mission of the program was that, “ Our primary task is to provide a liberal education and to preserve and nurture our humanistic culture.” Even today, the campus is still striving for this goal.
Author and Professor William Kennedy, who still is involved in the University informally. Photo courtesy of

Author and Professor William Kennedy, who still is involved in the University informally. Photo courtesy of

Although the department was small and only consisted of a few classes when it first began, it evolved into a well-respected minor in the English department. The enrollments of students have also increased every semester.

     The University at Albany also earns credibility for hiring two professors who are highly respected in their field, amongst many others. The first is Professor Nancy Roberts, who was director at the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the second is Professor Thomas Bass, who directed at the Hamilton College Program in New York City. These two professors, as many other of the professors at Albany, are also well-known authors.
Professor William Rainbolt. Photo courtesy of Edwina Smith.

Professor William Rainbolt. Photo courtesy of Edwina Smith.

Another very important person, who has been here the longest,  is Professor William Rainbolt, he has been there for 24 years. He has grown with the program and helped it become what it is today.  Although he has recently handed his title of director over to Roberts, he is still teaching classes and advising students. When he is not teaching he is learning to help people who are dealing with Bereavement and Grief. After he retires at Suny Albany he hopes to become a counselor in this field.

The journalism program at the  university had graduated 800 journalism minors in 2005, and Professor William Rainbolt said that, “Even though it was only a minor, the students called themselves journalism students,” proudly. Also in 2005, there was over 500 media-internships for  journalism students.

Rainbolt is also very excited for the improvements that he has accomplished. He said, “Those that apply themselves can get a lot out of it, you just have to produce,” speaking of the students taking advantage of the journalism program. If journalism is what you are really interested in, then you will enjoy the experience at the university, the teachers expect you to work hard and write a lot.

To be a journalism major there are several requirementsthat you need including 30 credits in a Jrl courses, 6 credits in another department or program in the student’s concentration. There are 4 different types of journalism concentrations offered which include: Public Affairs Journalism; Science and Technology Journalism; Visual and Digital Media; and General Journalism. The concentration General Journalism is an array of courses designed to embrace learning reporting and writing.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

With two thirds of the alumni working in the journalism field it is safe to say that the journalism program is a success today. Journalism in 2006, finally became a choice for students to major in, after 33 years of being a minor. Today there are 28 sections (topics of classes) being taught to students.

The classrooms are taught by almost 75% of adjuncts; which consists mostly of  professors who also work full-time positions in the real world of journalism on a daily basis. As a student, I will say that this aspect is my favorite of the journalism department. There is nothing like attending a class about journalism when the professor has just left their journalism job and can give you the breakdown of their day.

Daryl McGrath professor, journalist, and freelance writer, has been an adjunct at the University “on and off ” since 1988. She has worked at the Boston Globe, The Record-Journal, Times Union and participated in an internship at the Chicago Tribune. She is freelancing currently and writing a book.

Being that she is part of many adjuncts at Suny Albany she said “I think all of us could do a better job if teaching was all we were doing. It is a struggle to give students the best they deserve.” In my opinion, after taking a class with her, she did a very well in-depth job of teaching me the history of journalism and portrayed what was to be expected of me as a journalist. This is just an example of how dedicated the professors are, they always think that they could do better.

Professor and Director Nancy Roberts. Photo courtesy of

Professor Nancy Roberts. Photo courtesy of

“Given the complex issues of the day such as war and terrorism and global warming, there’s never been a better time to study and practice journalism,” said Nancy Roberts. Other reasons that now is a great time to study journalism are President-elect Barack Obama, and the new world of journalism on the Internet. Even though newspapers are at their downfall, many publications are turning to the Internet.

In one of my classes Professor Michael Huber, who also works at the Times Union newspaper in Albany, said to us “Why are you (students) studying to be journalists, when so many jobs are being lost?” Many people who work for newspapers see print journalism as the only way of journalism, but just because newspapers seem to be coming to an end, does not mean that journalism is. A whole new door has been opened for journalists, they just have to learn how to put their journalism on the Internet in an attractive way.

The program at Albany’s University teaches students to use blogs; which are one of the many ways of “new journalism”. With this aspect under student’s belts’ it is a guarantee for success. You have to know how to use journalism on the Internet because the people who hire you will want to see this as a  credential.

Journalism is changing every day, literally. Professors at the university are aware of this and create their classes to keep up with all of the changes. Huber said, many news organizations are putting their news onto a website because they realize that this is how their readers prefer to gain their news.

For example Professor David Washburn has an advanced class where students write, edit and package magazine length stories for the web. It is all hands-on, because students need to be learning how to multiple tasks.

Here are a list of full-time journalism professors at the University at Albany and their colleges they graduated from:

Professors College attended
Thomas Bass, Ph.D. University of California, Santa Cruz
Nancy Roberts, Ph.D. University of Minnesota
William Rainbolt,Ph.D. University at Albany
Rosemary Armao,M.A. Ohio State University

Then here is a list of part-time professors at the University at Albany:

Professors College attended
Bill Ackerbauer, B.A. Union College
Steve Barnes, B.A. Ithaca College
Sebrina Barrett, J.D. Southern Illinois University
Benning De La Mater, M.S. Syracuse University
Richard D’Errico, M.A. Empire State College
Dennis Gaffney, B.A. Wesleyan University
Sebrina Barrett, J.D. Southern Illinois University
David Guistina, M.A. University at Albany
Michael Hendricks, B.A. University of Michigan
Michael Hill, B.A. SUNY Geneseo
Ronald Kermani, B.S. Syracuse University
Stephen Leon, M.S. Northwestern University
Darryl McGrath, M.S. Columbia University
Holly McKenna, B.A. University of Tennessee
Thomas Palmer, B.S. Auburn University
Shirley Perlman, B.A. SUNY at Buffalo
Claudia Ricci, Ph.D. University at Albany
Christopher Ringwald, M.S. Columbia University
Katherine Van Acker, B.S. Montana State University
Laney Salisbury, M.S. Columbia University
David Washburn, M.S. Syracuse University

The University has also recently received a grant from  the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation to invite science writers and well-known journalists to the campus. They are going to be participating in seminars, events and classes. The hope is to give the journalism students a chance to discuss certain important topics and get an idea of how to relate them to the public.

“This is a timely gift that enriches our curricular offerings in science journalism,” said Bass. “The grant confirms our view that the Journalism Program, while extremely popular, is also extremely important. We’ve been spotted by a foundation which recognizes ethics and excellence in Journalism, and this is what we do.”

With the university constantly improving  it is hard to pass up the opportunity of participating in such a well thought out program. I will take responsibility as a student and say that I recommend this program highly to any one who is serious about receiving a prestigious degree in journalism. The classes are fun, hands-on, challenging, up to date with today’s journalism, and a irreplaceable experience.

If you are interested in finding out about the classes offered at the University at Albany journalism department you can check out this page. Also if you are interested you can look at the video below to learn more about the University as a brief overview and find out some quick facts.

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