Go ahead:  Launch our School of Communication and Media.

That was the challenge (and the offer) in front of me in the summer of 2012, as a relatively new faculty member at the University of Rhode Island.  My background as an event planner and my interest in the University’s new Harrington School of Communication and Media converged here, and I was given a few months to put the right faculty, students, and alumni into an attractive program that could say (in an hour or less) “This is who we are” to the whole University.

What I developed (with the help of some insightful, creative faculty and students) was Ignite: Harrington – a speaker and multimedia event with to-the-second choreography.  We used the Ignite format to program six speaker presentations:  a current student, a doctoral graduate, two alumni, and two faculty.  Under the Ignite format, speakers are given 20 slides to work with, with each slide automatically advancing after 15 seconds.  The resulting claustrophobia demands creativity, and adds a level of excitement to the talk.  It also fits really nicely within an hour program.


We mixed the talks with multimedia pieces that captured the creative, pedagogical, and research interests of the new Harrington School, and kept a breakneck pace that matched our overarching theme:  the rapid influence of media and technology in every facet of our world.  Throughout, each segment was introduced by a member of the Harrington Rangers, a group of student leaders and ambassadors who represented the level of dedication and passion that the school aimed for in its mission.  We also put the entire event in-the-round, so that everyone could lay eyes on one another the entire time, emphasizing that such a school is, more than anything, a community.

The talks were fantastic, the audience supportive, and the room stayed alive the entire time.  I knew the event was going well when I was suddenly asked to say a final word or two onstage at the end – I just wish I’d had as much time to prepare as our presenters.

Ignite: Harrington talks and multimedia are still available on YouTube