Stephens College will meet student interest this fall with the creation of a new minor in event planning.
Stephens College tried a pilot introductory course, “Special Events and Planning Management,” last semester, which drew 35 students — a large number for any class at Stephens, which averages 18 to 20 students per class.
John Blakemore, chairman of the mass media department, which will oversee the minor, said he thinks it will not only help students get jobs but be immediately applicable once they’re working.
“This is a multi-billion dollar industry … that’s dominated by women,” said Rachel Gross, a 1993 Stephens alumna who now directs corporate events for America Online. “It seems like a natural fit that Stephens would offer this minor.”
Gross, who promoted establishment of the minor, said it will be applicable and practical to many majors offered at Stephens.
“Event planning is a part of every corporation and nonprofit organization,” she said. “Behind every event, whether it’s corporate or an AIDS or breast cancer walk, is an event planner planning it.”
Although the minor could benefit students in a variety of majors, Blakemore said it will especially benefit those studying public relations.
“Event planning, once a stepchild to public relations, has become an important field in and of itself,” he said.
The minor will include three special-event classes, along with writing courses in public relations and advertising.
Rex Stevens, vice president of academic affairs at Stephens, said there is a demand for professionals in event planning, as he learned while planning the inauguration last April for Stephens President Wendy Libby.
“It’s a growing field,” he said. “And there is a shortage of those who are trained to organize events.”
Lacey Blue is one of two Stephens graduates awarded a paid internship with AOL’s event planning department after her work in the pilot class. Blue, who graduated in May, said she has been surprised how much she has been able to apply from the one event-planning class. She said the other courses planned as part of the minor will provide needed experience. “With as many classes as (students) will be taking,” Blue said, “it will be real world experience they’ll have that we didn’t.”