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Events planned to celebrate four-year communications program

The Department of Political Science & International Affairs and the Department of Communication, Media & Journalism at the University of North Georgia (UNG) will bring nationally-renowned journalist and First Amendment expert Gene Policinski to the university for a three-day visit beginning Tuesday, Feb. 25.

Gene Policinski
Gene Policinski

The departments partnered with Pi Sigma Alpha political science honor society, the UNG Debate, Forensics, and Interpretation Team, the Political Science Student Association, and The Vanguard student newspaper to offer students and community members the opportunity to learn from Policinski's experiences. The events are to celebrate UNG's addition of a four-year communications program.

"Gene Policinski's visit is providing an excellent opportunity for us to work more closely with our colleagues in the Department of Communication and with several terrific student organizations," said Dr. Dlynn Williams, chairman of the Department of Political Science & International Affairs. "We were also very pleased to once again be involved in a university-wide effort to promote First Amendment appreciation and awareness. That's something that's dear to the heart of every political scientist."

Policinski is a senior executive with the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to free press, free speech, and free spirit for all people. He is chief operating officer of the Forum's Newseum Institute, a museum of news that is one of Washington, D.C.'s top attractions. He also directs the Forum's Diversity Institute and its First Amendment Center, initiatives founded to recruit and train a diverse journalistic workforce and to explore issues surrounding First Amendment freedoms. 

A veteran journalist himself, Policinski has held many leadership positions in newspapers, radio, television, and online operations in his 30-plus year career. He was a founding editor at USA TODAY and spent time directing the paper's Washington, "Page One," and sports sections. He co-writes the nationally-distributed column "Inside the First Amendment," and was the executive producer of the Emmy award-winning public television program "Speaking Freely." A graduate of Ball State University, Policinski is an adjunct professor at Winthrop University and an adviser to the Institute for Media, Culture, and Ethics at Bellarmine University. 

Policinski's visit will begin at UNG's Gainesville Campus at 1 p.m. Feb. 25 with a light reception and talk open to the entire UNG community in Room 109 of the Continuing Education Building. He will then meet with students of the Dahlonega Campus 3:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. in room 380 of the Library Technology Center. Both classes are open to the public and visitors are encouraged to attend. 

Policinski's visit will continue Feb. 26 when he will attend the noon meeting and "Crossfire" discussion of the UNG Political Science Student Association in the lobby of Young Hall on the Dahlonega Campus.  They will be discussing the First Amendment, and the meeting is open to the public. That evening, Policinski will moderate the first UNG Great Political Ideology Showdown, sponsored by the UNG Debate, Forensics, and Interpretation Team. This will be a debate between College Democrats, College Republicans, and Young Americans for Liberty covering such political issues as immigration, minimum wage, and the government's ability to limit free speech, among other topics. Representatives from each organization will spar and then field questions about their ideological perspectives on current events from audience members. The event begins at 7 p.m. in the Hoag Student Center Auditorium.

Policinski's visit to UNG will wrap up in Gainesville on the morning of Feb. 27, when he will meet with several faculty members from the Departments of Communication, Media & Journalism and Political Science & International Affairs.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for UNG," said Dr. Merrill Morris, professor of journalism and media studies.  "Many of our bachelor's students will be journalism majors, so having a journalist of Gene Policinski's caliber here will be great for them."

Policinski's visit is being funded by a "Chapter Activity Grant" of $900 that was awarded to UNG's Xi Kappa chapter of the Pi Sigma Alpha honor society.

For more information about Gene Policinski's visit, please contact Dr. Charles "Trey" Wilson in the Department of Political Science & International Affairs at charles.wilson@ung.edu.

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