U.S. Coast Guard singles out Grady master’s program

Athens, Ga. – The U.S. Coast Guard knows a good thing when it sees one. As a result, it will be sending future public affairs graduate students to the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“Later this year, two Coast Guard officers will be selected for the public affairs graduate school program, and they will be expected to apply to the University of Georgia for admission in fall 2007,” explained Patricia Miller, deputy chief, U.S. Coast Guard Office of Public Affairs, Washington, D.C.

Miller chairs a panel that selects the Coast Guard’s best-qualified junior officers for full-time public affairs graduate study scholarships. “We are usually funded for one or two new students each year, and choose those with the best graduate record exam (GRE) scores, evidence of writing and academic ability, and superb performance evaluations,” she explained.

The selected officers then apply to graduate school. After earning the master’s degree, the officers are assigned to one of 10 U.S. Coast Guard public affairs officer positions in major media markets. Some rise to fill senior public affairs leadership positions later in their careers.

Miller singled out two Grady College alumni as shining examples. After graduating in 1998, Lieutenant Commander Rick Wester served as a media relations specialist in Washington, D.C. and also coordinated several national-level public relations events. Commander Jeff Carter, who graduated from Grady in 2001, staged public affairs operations for the entire Pacific Coast region, and now heads the national media relations staff at Coast Guard headquarters.

With such past success, and recognizing the excellence of Grady College’s academic program, the Coast Guard wished to institutionalize the relationship with the University of Georgia. “We make no presumption that there would be any guarantee of admission,” Miller said. “Each student would have to be evaluated on his or her own merit.”

Coast Guard junior officers will be given 18 months to earn the degree in the public relations sequence, including any prerequisites.

“This is a testament to the high quality of the Grady College graduate faculty, and the excellent graduate students that our program attracts,” said Jeff Springston, professor of public relations and associate dean for research and graduate studies at Grady College.

Established in 1915, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication provides seven undergraduate majors including advertising, broadcast news, magazines, newspapers, public relations, publication management and telecommunication arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, considered the electronic broadcasting industry’s most prestigious prize. For more information, visit www.grady.uga.edu.