CLEVELAND, Ga. – A fledgling communication program at Truett McConnell University is intended to provide a pipeline that puts Bible-believing graduates into high-profile positions where they can influence public opinion and public policy.
“We seek to educate journalists, attorneys, public office holders, corporate spokesmen, press secretaries, on-air newscasters, and other communication professionals,” said Barry McCarty, dean of the university’s Hans Denck School of Communication. “And whatever our graduates do for a living, they will do it with a Christian worldview, being witnesses to the truth of the gospel.”
The mission of Truett McConnell, which is affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention, is “to prepare students to boldly fulfill the Great Commission in whatever their calling may be.”
Truett McConnell President Emir Caner said the program will also be a benefit to churches looking for employees to fill open positions in media and communications.
“Churches are finding it really difficult to find qualified people for those roles,” Caner said. “This new program will resolve that.”
The north Georgia school offers degrees in biology, business administration, Christian studies, criminal justice, education, English, exercise science, global studies, history, humanities, music, nursing and psychology, and each of those fields, McCarty said, requires topnotch communications skills.
“Even professions that are not primarily thought of as communication vocations usually require people to speak and to write clearly and persuasively,” he said. “One of the areas I am particularly interested in preparing students for is the law. I’m hoping that a number of our students use their BA degree in communication as a pre-law program. The degree covers all the basic skills – how to think, how to speak, how to write with clarity and force. We ground our students in the basics so that they can succeed in whatever professional specialization they choose.”
On its website, Truett McConnell makes clear that it is at its core a Christian university where “students are challenged to fearlessly live out their faith as they are learning, growing, and becoming what God meant for them to be. … Our students receive a one-of-a-kind education that is focused around these four pillars: love the Lord, love His Word, love the church, and love the lost.”
McCarty, who has been the Southern Baptist Convention’s chief parliamentarian for nearly 40 years, joined the Truett McConnell faculty as professor of rhetoric and communication and founding dean of the new Hans Denck School of Communication in 2020. He previously served as a professor of preaching and rhetoric at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, president of Cincinnati Christian University, and as pastor in Georgia, Ohio and Texas.
An Atlanta native, McCarty holds a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies from Mid-Atlantic Christian University, a master’s in speech communication from Abilene Christian University, and a Ph.D. in rhetoric and argumentation from the University of Pittsburgh.
Bailey Wilber, a junior communication major, said she is considering a career in public service, and she said the School of Communication will help her prepare for that because it teaches young Christians to better articulate their thoughts.
“I consider talking to be my spiritual gift,” said Wilber, a member of the Truett McConnell golf and lacrosse teams. “With this degree, you learn how to be articulate, speak, and connect to people in a better way in a world that doesn’t want you to be heard.”
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