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Georgia Southern University

Communication Arts welcomes back alumni for “50+1” anniversary celebration

Alumni and former department chair, Hal Fulmer

Georgia Southern University alumni and students gathered in Sanford Hall for a reunion like no other. Some alumni came back to a “new” building and a freshly posted mural, making this 50+1 anniversary a celebration to remember.

The Department of Communication Arts was established on the Statesboro Campus 50 years ago. The “+ 1” in the anniversary celebration recognizes its one year as a department on the Armstrong Campus. Approximately 60 alumni, including some who hadn’t been back to campus since the department moved to the former residence hall in 2014, attended the celebration on Oct. 17 and 18. 

“To have around 60 alumni back sharing tips, their experiences and their memories created synergy and energy,” said department chair Pamela Bourland-Davis, Ph.D. “Students were connecting classes to professional practices. They were getting résumé and job hunting tips. And they were hearing from alumni in many different areas of practice.”

Recent graduate, Chelsey Thompkins helped organize the event as an undergraduate intern last semester. “To see so many great people who have graduated from Georgia Southern can be an inspiration to other people who are currently still in school,” said Thompkins.

Alumni included in this year’s celebration are now film directors, artists, news reporters, television personalities and more. Alumnus Beau Turpin, who graduated in 2009, is now a film producer based in Atlanta. He came to Georgia Southern as an undeclared major, but was able to create a path of his own in the department.

“I explored getting a major in communication arts with an emphasis in broadcasting,” said Turpin. “They didn’t have a film major at the time, so I got a film minor through theater. I just loved the fact that I could shape my own education within one department.”

Notable alumnus Hal Fulmer, Ph.D., was among those who came back. He is a former student and professor in the communication arts department. Fulmer graduated in 1981 and began working as a faculty member in 1988. He became chair in 1996 and served in that role until his departure in 2002.

Fulmer is now an associate provost at Troy University. He reminisced on what it means to see former students. 

“What’s really nice is I can see a chain of people who I taught when I came back as a faculty member,” said Fulmer. “They are highly successful and have had great careers already, and that’s really a neat feeling. So we really have a great thing here. And we’ve had it for a long time.”

Bourland-Davis hopes the alumni who attended the event remember that communication arts is still their campus home and that their success inspires current students of the great opportunities ahead following completion of the program. 

“Our students also got to see the varied careers for which studying communication can prepare them, and that what they are learning in class is more than just an answer on a test,” said Bourland-Davis.

The 50+1 anniversary celebration is the beginning of a series of events happening this year in the department. “The Addams Family” musical happens on Nov. 2 with proceeds going toward creating a freshman theatre scholarship. Two more events are planned in the spring semester.

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving nearly 26,500 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.

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