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The History of the School

 School of Communication

The Department of Communication was one of the first departments of its kind in South Africa. In August 1970 Professor Tom de Koning became the first Chairperson of the Department of Communication at Rand Afrikaans University. In this capacity, his primary function was to establish and develop new curriculums for the BA Degree that would be introduced in 1972.

The first few learners to enroll attended lectures in pre-fabricated buildings on the Braamfontein Campus. It was only in 1975 that these learners moved to the brand new building on the Auckland Park Campus.

The new degree went from strength to strength. As the learner numbers increased, so more staff joined the department. In 1981 three new specialization courses were added to the curriculum namely Organizational Communication (which included advertising), Development Communication (which included intercultural communication) and Journalism. In 1982 Professor Nina Overton-De Klerk was appointed as Chairperson when Professor de Koning left to take up a position as Vice-Chancellor at the University of Venda.

In 1992 Professor Overton-De Klerk left the department to take up a position as Executive Director of the AAA. Professor Sonja Verwey took over as Chairperson in 1992.  In 1998 the Department of Communication revised its curriculums and developed four (initially five) career-focused degrees under the direction of the then Head of Department, Professor Sonja Verwey. These degrees proved to be an astounding success and the Department quickly grew to more than 1500 undergraduate degree learners and 18 members of staff. The Department then moved into brand new offices and acquired a new, fully-equipped video studio. As such it became one of the University's largest departments and its reputation in the market place contributed to its status as one of the leading communication departments in South Africa.

On 1 January 2005 the University of Johannesburg came into being after two years of negotiations. The Department of Communication at RAU merged with the Department of Public Relations Management at the Technikon Witwatersrand (TWR) as part of the institutional merger of RAU and TWR. The new Department was the only Department of Communication in South Africa offering a whole range of qualifications from certificate courses to doctoral studies. This gave it a very unique and strategic advantage, especially situated as it is in the heartland of the South African economy.

In January 2009 the Department of Communication was reconstituted as the School of Communication. This marked an exciting new chapter in the history of this dynamic and innovative Department. In January 2010 three departments came into being within the School: Department of Strategic Communication, Department of Journalism, Film and Television and the Department of Communication and Media Studies.​