By Malinda Miller (Engl, Jour’92; MJour’98)
Photos by Kimberly Coffin (CritMed, StratComm’18)
Over three decades in public relations and corporate communications, Kelly Ladyga (Jour’86) has navigated high-level corporate negotiations and sticky crisis management situations. She’s designed successful public relations campaigns for dozens of organizations and built her own digital communications firm, 105West Marketing.
Now Ladyga and her colleagues are leveraging decades of combined experience to help launch CMCI’s Master of Arts in Corporate Communication. The new, fully online degree program is designed for working communications professionals—the type of program Ladyga wishes she’d had access to as a junior professional.
“I think [a program like this] would've given me some fundamentals that I had to learn as I went along, as opposed to having access to those tools early on in my career that can really help propel you further as a corporate communications practitioner,” said Ladyga, who will be teaching Corporate Communications and Ethics.
Launching in fall 2022, the program consists of a 10-course, 30-credit curriculum of core and specialized classes that will provide conceptual knowledge, practical instruction and skills that can immediately be applied to day-to-day work.
“It’s designed to be flexible so that students can advance their careers while balancing work and other demands in their lives,” said Burton St. John, professor of public relations and director of the corporate communication master’s program.
The online classes are offered in seven-week terms, with two terms each semester, and students can complete the program in as little as 19 months.
St. John added that all instructors have at least 10 years of corporate communication experience.
“I'm very excited to be teaching corporate communications and ethics. It's really been a great process for me to look back on my career, and especially my 20 years at Vail Resorts, having been involved in the acquisition of 12 mountain resorts, endless hotel properties, all kinds of issues and every crisis you can imagine,” said Ladyga, who also worked with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Colorado Ski Country USA and Schenkein PR in Denver.
Richard Khleif (MJour’99, PhDMediaSt’07), senior director of global marketing, communication and engagement at Oracle Corporation, has also helped build the curriculum and will teach the introductory course, Strategic Corporate Communication Management.
During long-time stints as an instructor at the University of Colorado and the University of Denver, Khleif has taught communication courses for more than 20 years while leading teams in corporate communications, marketing, learning and development, sales, services, and other business areas.
“The teaching informs the work I do in my industry life, and the experiences and interactions I have there absolutely inflect [my] teaching,” Khleif said.
He believes the program is a good match for an early- to mid-career professional looking to “take it up a level” or for someone with professional experience outside of communications who wants to switch career directions.
“The ideal candidate for this is somebody with some professional experience who can bring those experiences to the table and have something of a professional vocabulary to leverage into the mix,” he said.
The degree is launching at a time when the demand for communication professionals is growing. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that public relations jobs will increase by 7% at the national level and by 20% in Colorado from 2018 to 2028.
An increasing need in the market, St. John said, is for professionals who can provide a higher level of counsel and problem-solving to C-suite leadership. This degree program aims to help professionals position themselves to move into these higher-level positions.
“It’s my hope that this program gives communications professionals the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to have a legitimate seat at the table with C-suite leaders,” Ladyga said. “In today’s fast-paced, multi-channel communications world, it’s critical that they be a strong, steady voice of honesty, integrity and compassion for their organization and its stakeholders."
To request information or apply, go to the Master of Arts in Corporate Communication website.