CCCA celebrates first five decades of excellence

CCCA celebrates first five decades of excellence


Born of a mission to help all students at Glassboro State College become better writers, Rowan University’s College of Communication & Creative Arts (CCCA) today has a far broader charge – the education of students across the communication sprectrum.

The college, which this year celebrates its first 50 years of excellence, welcomed more than 220 guests to a banquet April 1 for a retrospective of the first five decades and to look forward to many more.

Today, the CCCA has nearly 1,600 students, 10 undergraduate and two graduate programs of study and some 225 full and part time faculty. Among numerous accolades, Rowan’s Public Relations Student Society of America chapter, named for retired professor Anthony Fulginiti, is the most celebrated chapter in the country and Rowan Radio 89.7 WGLS-FM has won more than 220 awards since its founding more than 50 years ago.

Spread across five buildings from the main campus to downtown Glassboro, the college is seemingly light years away from the small group of dedicated faculty who, at the direction of then-President Thomas E. Robinson, originally moved from the Department of English to teach writing college-wide.


A humble start

Mary Anne Palladino, one of the original six faculty members to found the department that ultimately became the CCCA, recently recalled the heady, exciting, sometimes nervous early years.

“We had a lot of kids coming into the college at that time who had real problems with writing so it was a challenge,” Palladino said. “But Dr. Robinson’s goal was to make writing an important part of the college program and it was important to us too.”

Enlisted along with her were John Collins, Sam Duryee, Glen Thoms, Allan Weinberg and  George Reinfeld (the department’s first chair).

And, of course, the times themselves were challenging. By 1966, President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, his brother Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be shot two years later, the war in Vietnam was ramping up under President Lyndon B. Johnson and so was the Civil Rights Movement, along with opposition to it.

As on college campuses across America, there were protests reflecting those turbulent times.

“I remember one on the day of a World Series game,” Palladino said. “We walked all over Glassboro and everyone was singing ‘Give Peace a Chance.’ Some of the kids were calling out to people in town to ask what the baseball score was.”

In 1967, Glassboro State briefly became the focus of the political world as President Johnson met over three days in June at Hollybush with Russian Premier Alexei Kosygin. What came to be known at the Glassboro Summit was largely organized by Donald Bagin, then Glassboro State’s public relations director who would later create the master’s program in public relations, the department’s first graduate degree, and become a storied public relations professor.

“It was thrilling,” Palladino said. “I was in Atlanta watching television and there was Don Bagin on TV, talking to the press before the Summit! I was due to come home the following Monday or Tuesday but changed my plans to come home early so I could be a part of it.”


Department grows, a college is born

In the years that followed, the Department of Communications would add programs in advertising; journalism; public relations; radio, television & film; liberal arts and communication theory as well as various concentrations, including a women’s studies concentration in 1974.

The department officially became the School of Communication in 1992 and, four years later, the College of Communication at Rowan University. In 2012, the Art Department joined the college and the name changed again, to the College of Communication & Creative Arts.

In addition to the many milestones in the evolution of the CCCA, its popularity continued to grow, drawing students from around New Jersey, the region and, sometimes, the country.


Celebrating excellence

The long planned celebration banquet included a menu featuring 1960s-inspired fare with 21st century flair. While Jello molds did not make the cut, modern takes on Beef Wellington, Waldorf salad and pineapple upside-down cake, along with a selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes, did.

Celebrity Chef Charlie Ayers, the original executive chef for Google and a former chef for the Grateful Dead, joined Rowan’s own Chef John Birmingham, who has prepared meals for both presidents Bush and was executive chef for the Olympic games in Sydney, Australia, to create the menu.

Hosted by journalism Professor Carl Hausman, the evening, in the Eynon Ballroom of the Chamberlain Student Center, included comments from Dean Sanford Tweedie, former Dean Lorin Arnold, a 15-minute video retrospective by Assistant Professor Chris Winkler and an animated piece by retired Professor Ed Streb, who flew in from Chicago.

Tweedie, sensing an opportunity to have some fun at the front of the room, noted that Rowan, like Google, is “on an upward trajectory.”

“OK, so we may not be on the same trajectory as Google but we can be found on Google,” he remarked.

But he said likenesses between Rowan, the college, the internet giant and its former chef were deeper than might appear.

“Celebrity Chef Charlie Ayers – CCCA,” Tweedie observed before turning semi-serious.

“Charlie embodies what we are trying to impress on our students,” he said. “Being a chef, an artist, a teacher, a student: it’s all about creativity."


You can come home again

The evening was a homecoming for many returning faculty and alumni who haven’t seen Rowan’s dramatic changes, from the West Campus to Rowan Boulevard.

“I barely recognize the place,” said Lori Busch ’94, a Radio, Television & Film major who is now a development officer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

At the same time, current faculty members and students said though they’ve been here during much of the recent change, they’re still awed by it.

“I feel a very strong bond to this school,” said Tim Zatzariny Jr., an instructor in writing arts who spent 20 years in daily journalism before returning to Rowan to earn his master’s degree in writing and, later, to teach.

“Life is strange,” Zatzariny continued. “Sandy Tweedie, who was my professor in my graduate program, is now my boss.”

Senior journalism major Kyle Sullender, editor in chief of The Whit student newspaper, said as he prepares to leave Rowan he feels extremely positive about his education, his future and his university.

“New opportunities open up here every year,” said Sullender, who plans to pursue a master’s degree in public policy upon graduating. “I’m sure just a few years from now the opportunities for students will be different, and greater, again.”

Some mementos of the first 50 years

Collage items:

Photo of the early writing/journalism lab, with board members, President James, faculty and students. 

The Airborne was a student graphic publication. We see inside a 1978 issue, black and white art and story by Wayne J. Mason, and the cover of the Fall 1979 issue by Mark Voglesong.

Student art and photography prints by Marilyn Ross and Ralph Lewis.

Archival film editing equipment that is still used in the classroom.

Rowan Radio microphone.

Glassworks published by the Master of Writing Arts Graduate Program, Spring 2012.

Standards guide for The Whit

Photo of Don Bagin, PR program founder and nationally prominent PR expert. 

Three mini cassettes contain a press conference and PR interviews and coverage. 

1997 Telly Award. 

1989 Avant

2016 Ticket to President's Lecture Series: A Conversation with Ken Burns.

1996 Ribbon-cutting for Bozorth addition and renovation including new studio for WGLS, King Auditorium and faculty offices. President James, Dean Toni Libro, Professor David Cromie and Board of Trustees member Arlene Silvers.