The unprecedented spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people consume media and entertainment and like the rest of the economy, this sector is also witnessing a significant disruption of business. While the long-term implications are yet to emerge, questions on how this industry will adapt to the new consumption pattern in the short-term have already popped up. One more important aspect to be considered pertaining to the field of media and mass communication is how the teaching-learning pattern in Media Schools will adapt to the new norms and continue to meet the expectations of the gen-z. Thereby, all we need now are institutions/colleges like ‘The American College’ who can deliver irrespective of the scenario outside and focus on academic excellence and social relevance, in turn, producing talented and responsible global citizens.
A pioneering higher education institution known for its successful early implementation of the Choice Based Credit System, The American College is proud about its long and prestigious heritage of over 139 years in societal service. Originally founded as a missionary in 1841, The American College grew into a collegiate department in 1881 at Pasumalai by the initiatives taken by Rev. G. T. Washburn, the Founder-Principal of the college. Subsequently, in the year 1906, the college was shifted to the present campus during the time of the second Principal Rev. W. M. Zumbro, where it got it, became independent of the mission in 1934 when an autonomous Governing council was formed to manage its own affairs. Furthermore, having its early affiliations with the University of Madras, but now, the college comes under the jurisdiction of Madurai Kamaraj University.
Having come a long way, striving from strength to strength, the college was one among the 7 colleges to be made autonomous by the UGC in 1977-1978. Today the college offers thirty undergraduate and sixteen postgraduate Programs, along with seven research centers offering M.Phil., and Ph.D. Programs in various disciplines, and two autonomous centers like Department of Applied Sciences (DAS) and Study Centre for Indian Literature in English and Translation (SCILET) receiving national and international attention. Its alumni shine as luminaries internationally as scientists, intellectuals, administrators, corporate managers, statesmen and leaders. The College has active theatre groups, National Service Scheme, N.C.C. units and service-learning Program (SLP) that offer students a wide variety of opportunities to serve society. These activities add up to make the campus vibrant for developing one’s personality.
Bridging the gap between academia and the media industry
Along with offering the latest of up-to-date courses to the masses, The American College’s newest entry, i.e., the Dept. of Visual Communication has received great accolades, progressing in pursuit of providing innovative training in visual media to the student community. Laying heavy emphasis on aesthetic presentation of local realities while effectively using global media strategies, The Dept. offers B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Visual Communication, and B.Voc and M.Voc degrees in Visual Communication. Making all the courses completely skill based with 100% placement opportunities, the alumni of the college are noteworthy actors like Major Sundarrajan, Director Mahendran, late actor Vivek, Director Bala, Director Karu Palaniappan, Director Thangameengal Ram, Director Mounakuru Shanta Kumar, Music Director Justin Prabhakar and so on.
Under the excellence of the autonomous system, the academic syllabus has been framed as a blend of theoretical practical and hands-on realistic frameworks in suitable proportions. The academic syllabus has also been curated with the proper weightage to Industrial internship. Apart from regular undergraduate and postgraduate courses the Department also offers life skills like professional photography, practical theatre, music video production, documentary as well as campaign strategies. Non-Major Elective courses like Film appreciation and Media education benefit the students studying in the other disciplines.
Educating today towards a better tomorrow
Changing according to the present times, and not letting learning get affected in any way, all thanks to the impressive infrastructure, in both physical and ICT-enabled ways, students learn in smart classrooms and develop professional and personal attributes. Students are provided with modern cameras, softwares and sophisticated laboratory facilities and write articles for the media houses and produce short films as well as documentaries. “Involving themselves thoroughly with the students in their journey towards excellence, the onboard faculty members function as GURUS cum mentors, ensuring all-rounded development and good mental well-being”, stated – Dr M Davamani Christober, the principal and the secretary of the college. Helping us and fellow mass media aspirants of today understand what The American College truly stands for, the principal took us through every aspect of the college and showed us how educational excellence is achieved.
Adding to his above statement and making a point about the importance laid on R & D at the American College, Dr. Christober stated – “As a part of the schedule the department regularly conducts seminars and conferences to promote research in mass media and communication and the faculty of the department too gets involved in research activities with financial support from different agencies”. Through the conversation with the principal, we also learnt that even amidst this ghastly Covid-19 lockdown, the department had conducted 11 Webinars and a Virtual Conference with Industry Specialists as the resource persons, progressing steadily towards building a full-fledged research department in the days to come.
As we all know that the field of the Mass Media is the 4th pillar of a democracy, thereby, as a part of its tradition, academic excellence and discipline are given due importance while grooming the students of visual communication before stepping their foot into the world of camera, lights and action. Also, as it is quite visible that the alumni of the college are now well-placed photographers, radio jockeys, cinematographers, art directors, journalists as well as entrepreneurs, this is the reason the department beams with pride in the media fraternity of Tamil Nadu. Moreover, with most of the students being placed in the film industry, television production houses like Sun TV, Vijay TV and in significant print media houses, few students are trying their luck in excelling as trained advertising professionals. With such a tremendous track record credited to its name, The American College is right on its track of producing quality media professionals, who have a better understanding of media compared to their peers, and a surreal knack of sharp creativity.
Dr. M Davamani Christober – Principal & Secretary
A dynamic and versatile academician whose vision has brought in laurels not only to the century old college but also in his professional feats, Dr. Christober holds two Doctoral degrees and has been teaching for the past 31 years. He is associated with The American College for the past 26 years and took charge as the Principal and Secretary in the year 2011. Under his illustrious guidance, The American College was accredited with 2nd Cycle NAAC with Grade “A” CGPA- 3.46 on a 4-point scale. His able guidance initiated the introduction of 11 new courses in the Self-Financed stream. Another feather in the hat as a Principal is the functionalizing of the Satellite campus 15 kms away from Madurai near Chhatrapati to cater to the needs of the suburban Madurai.