New Paltz to Offer Major in Public Relations

NEW PALTZ — A new course of study in Public Relations will begin this fall at the State University of New York at New Paltz, according to William W. Vasse vice president for academic affairs.

Students will be able to take introductory and advanced courses in public relations, as well as courses in persuasion and journalism, to prepare them for careers as public relations professionals, the vice president explained. Approximately 200,000 people work today in the field of public relations.

“This program will give students the skills and the theory that will prepare them for a career in public relations,” commented Vasse.

“Students have been asking for this program for quite some time,” said Robert Miraldi, chair of the department of communication and media at SUNY New Paltz. “We believe it is an important area of study that increasingly determines what the public hears and sees.”

The department of communication and media presently offers degrees in communication, journalism and radio-television production. It is the largest department on campus. “This program will build on the skills and theory we now teach,” observed Miraldi, who worked in public relations before becoming a professor.

Miraldi described public relations as the way a company or an individual communicates to the public by publicizing its activities, products and policies. It often involves close contact with the news media, he explained.

“It is an important part of a functioning democratic society,” he said, adding that both government and business need to explain themselves to citizens, who then make choices about public policies and company products.

One of the key teachers of public relations will be Shelly Wright, a former newspaper reporter who worked in public relations for two years in Geneva, Switzerland. She has been teaching public relations for five years, the past two at SUNY New Paltz.

Wright pointed to the need for students to take courses in both media and the liberal arts. “Good writing and critical-thinking skills are vital to public relations practitioners,” Wright said.

The department of communication and media offers many of its writing and editing courses in state-of-the art computer facilities where students write under deadline, as well as design various publications. The program will also encourage students to work in the Hudson Valley in various public relations capacities.