Dr. Jim Trammell walks into his Video Production class on the first day of the semester and says, “Ok, now everyone get up and exit the room.”
With perplexed looks and stares, the class shuffles out of the room into the hallway.
“You can be admitted to class after you are able to wrap the power cord properly,” says the associate professor of communication in the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication.
“You must make sure there are no kinks in the cord as you wrap it in a circular motion. We don’t want them to be damaged.”
A simple, yet daunting task for some people that work in the television news industry today because many don’t take the time to master that skill. So before each student re-enters class, Trammell teaches them a necessary skill.
“I want my students to graduate fully prepared for the broadcasting world,” says Trammell. “They need to know everything from the core basics to the intricate details.”
And that is why he pushes them.
“How can I get my students to go that extra mile? How can I get them to take that extra step to succeed? I want my students to go above and beyond.”
These are the questions Trammell asks himself every day before class begins.
Curriculum that’s Constantly Changing
In the fall of 2007, HPU revamped the communication curriculum with a focus on preparing students for the world as it is going to be. That’s when the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication was established on HPU’s campus. Trammell was one of the many new faculty additions in the School of Communication, and from there, he developed the electronic media track.
“I was so attracted to what this school was going to build,” he says. “I wanted to be a part of that process.”
Communication is the second most popular major at HPU. With new concentrations like sport communication and a new documentary media major, the school’s programs are constantly being changed and updated to meet the needs of the broadcasting industry.
Today, it offers students a combination of theory-based and practical courses in a multidisciplinary, experiential-learning environment. The state-of-the-art facilities feature high definition television production studios, a multi-track audio recording studio, editing suites, computer labs, a high-definition surround sound theatre-screening room and a gaming communication development studio.
Faculty like Trammell prepare students to get jobs in the communication field where they will become videographers, anchors and producers in television news, radio and sports broadcasting industries.
As a well-known professor around campus, calling students by their first name everywhere he goes – even to non-communication majors – Trammell has the “go get ‘em” personality that is infectious to anyone he comes in contact with.
He teaches students the skills they need to produce television broadcast-ready work and has them go out of the classroom to put together a story of their own.
“I encourage all students to learn beyond the grade,” he says. “Once I give them the tools to figure things out, I see what they come up with, then go from there. As a faculty member, I need to prepare them for the world as it is going to be; it is constantly changing.”
“A classmate had convinced me that taking Dr. Trammell’s class would change my life, and it did,” says HPU 2014 alumna Meredith Beck. “His classes were tough and intense, but amazing all at the same time. He pushed me, but most importantly he reminded me each and every day why I wanted to go into the business.”
Many of Trammell’s communication students have gone on to have major success in the industry. HPU 2012 alumna Caroline Stewart works on the management team for singer Demi Lovato; 2011 alumna Nicole Larmarca is an associate producer for Disney ABC Television Group in New York; 2015 alumnus Connor Schaney provides score updates and records statistics for NFL football games at CBS Sports in New York City; and 2014 alumnus Ed Harlin is a camera operator for the Atlanta Braves. These are just a few examples of where his students have started their careers.
And with that, they credit their success to his guidance. To Trammell, if you have “competence and confidence,” you can be successful in the shifting news and communication landscape.
“Thanks to Dr. Trammell I have landed my dream job as the morning producer for Good Morning Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina,” says Beck. “When it came to producing my first national story of my career, the shooting in Charleston at Emanuel AME church in June, I had a flashback to my first day of sophomore year in Dr. Trammell’s class. At the time, I thought I was in way over my head, that I could never make it in the news industry. I remembered his encouragement, guidance and confidence in me. It helped me to succeed.”