Xavier School of Communications (XCOMM), Bhubaneswar: Nurturing Ethically Sensitive, Innovative And Skillful Media Professionals

By Prof. Fr Donald D Silva, S.J., Ph.D., Dean
Prof. Fr Donald D Silva,S.J., Ph.D., Dean

Prof. Fr Donald D Silva

S.J., Ph.D., Dean

Historically speaking Jesuits can boast of opening formal schools and colleges in India way back in the 1550s. St Xavier's College Mumbai established Xavier Institute of Communications in 1969 to develop scholarship and professionalism in media. Subsequently, another Jesuit College of repute, Loyola College Chennai came forward to offer a Degree in Visual Communication in the late 1980s. Inspired by the two premier media programs of our own colleges, when Xavier Institute of Management Bhubaneswar with its 32 years of service in Management Education, became Xavier University in the year 2013, Jesuits took this as a challenge to establish a quality media school with a difference in Odisha, mainly to cater the needs of young budding media professionals of Eastern India.

"Xavier School Of Communications Is A Place Where Ideas Meet Innovation And Intellectual Freedom Meets Creativity"

Striving to promote progressive trends in the area of communications and research while envisaging students to communicate life to people across the world is Bhubaneswar based Xavier School of Communications. Popularly known as XCOMM, Xavier School of Communications is a place where ideas meet innovation and intellectual freedom meets creativity. Making a difference all over the world is the vision of Jesuit education and in XCOMM, this vision is translated into a mission in very many ways. The institute offers BSc Mass Communication, MA Mass Communication, Doctoral Studies and short-term Diploma and Certificate Programs. The major courses which students desire to specialize at XCOMM include Media Research, Digital Journalism, Television Production, Advertising, Marketing Communication, Corporate Communication, Public Relations and Event Management besides the skill-based courses like Photography, Videography, Audio Engineering, Designing and Graphics. XCOMM stands out by creating a perfect blend of theory and practice, and the institute ensures that the students at XCOMM are provided with adequate training by both inhouse faculty and industry experts through workshops and special sessions.

Studying at XCOMM means creating a new home where self-expression, innovation and creativity is valued more than just classroom teaching. Every approach at XCOMM is aimed at giving the best in everything students and faculty do without having to compromise on their values. "Jesuit education focuses on approaching students from a liberative perspective, an approach that molds students to become true adults who would take responsibility for their actions and stand by the truth. To do so, XCOMM faculty and management strive to mentor individuals and get students involved in a process of discovering oneself to stand on their own for life and not just for career alone. XCOMM is a brand and culture by itself where one aims at happiness, being more and sharing the talents with others who are not as fortunate as one is", says Prof. Fr Donald D'Silva, Dean, Xavier School of Communications, Bhubaneswar.

Striving to be Better to do Better
Established in 2015, XCOMM follows Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (IPP) which is around 450 years' old and is followed in every Jesuit school, college and university worldwide. Like every production that has Pre-production, Production and Post-production, the teaching pedagogy at XCOMM includes a pre-learning element, context and a post-learning element. "Teaching is incomplete without Experience, Reflection and Action. Pedagogy demands that students invest time in preparing for the lesion, reflect on what is taught during the class and goes back to prepare a strategy for action. At XCOMM, our course
instructors are trained to accompany every student in his/her personal, emotional and intellectual growth without neglecting the weaker and less talented. Preparing students for grades and marks is not in our agenda as we believe that the media and communication field is centered around basic knowledge, confidence, courage, creativity and innovation. We try to bring out the best from within and not forcing the best into student life, justifying our moto Communicating Life in every sense. In the process of grooming students, we do accept our limited resources and expertise and therefore, to bridge that gap between theoretical knowledge and industry practices, we bring the industry to the classroom by way of industry talks, guest lectures and skype sessions, and at the same time, we take the classroom to the industry by organizing symposiums, conclaves, field visits, workshops in media houses, so and so forth. The best part of our program is our ongoing mentoring by the industry professionals as a follow up of internships at the end of each academic year. This faculty-student accompaniment makes us different from other", elaborates Prof. Fr Donald D'Silva.

"When A Student Takes Pride In Calling Oneself An XCOMMITE, There Is A Sense Of Belongingness, A Sense Of Human Touch, A Sense Of Loyalty And Commitment"

As a place of higher learning, XCOMM has always stood to live up to the University's motto of 'Inspiring Futures'. Being one of the new brands of media schools, Xavier School of Communications is a pioneer in the field of interactive media education running one of the most rigorous media and communication programs where the students are engaged in 'Learning by Knowing and Learning by Doing'. The excellence in media and communication studies at XCOMM is achieved through its state-of-the-art infrastructure, production labs, air-conditioned classrooms, round the clock Wi-Fi, and student residences on campus. XCOMM houses professional audio studios, studio floor, online TV Production set-up, Teleprompters, Edit suites lab and professional training in top high-end software in the industry. The 'XCOMM Studio' is equipped with online video production facilities along with professional lights and grids. The lab is fully equipped with software for animation, imaging and graphic design and workstations give students ample chances to practice what they learn in classrooms. The specialty of XCOMM School is that all the technical equipment are made available to the students to have hands-on experience and practice even after class hours.

Redefining Media Education
Although the popular view on the current Indian media scenario paints a bleak picture, XCOMM believes otherwise. The institute consistently strives to groom a generation of firebrand media practitioners who will conquer the truth at any cost. With their well-qualified faculty with doctoral degrees coupled with industry experience, XCOMM is more of mentors than mere classroom lecturers. One to one guidance and tutoring make student life enjoyable and educative in every sense. Feedback by the students after every course also helps faculty to bring in changes in the syllabus, thus making teaching and learning meaningful and enjoyable. While having theoretical input, practical and field exposure components make our program stand out. Also, the Strategic Academic Advisory Board (SAAB) of the School that consists of members from the industry, review the curricula periodically to critically evaluate the relevance of the courses with respect to the ever-changing demands of the industry.

Within a short span of five years, Xavier School of Communications (XCOMM) Bhubaneswar has seen rapid growth in terms of academic excellence; supply of skilled, qualified and talented media professionals to the ever-competitive media industry; support to industry throughout the country by way of providing them with enthusiastic and
committed interns. Independent works of students are being recognized not just university level but are appreciated and awarded nationally and internationally. Some of the prestigious awards at state and national level were bagged by XCOMMiTes like Ayush Mohapatra, won the Best Director award for his documentary film 'Satabhaya: The Story Unfolds' in the 4th Dehradun International Film Festival; SaswatPati won the prestigious Biju Patnaik Award for Conservation of Wildlife by Government of Odisha for wildlife photography; Nikita Baliarsingh secured 36th rank in the international story writing competition and also won Innovative Enterpriser of the year 2019; Bhanvi Sharma was awarded best female photographer of Odisha; Ankur Biplav was invited to perform live by All India Radio Cuttack. There are several others who are recognized and awarded locally and nationally at inter-college and university competitions.

XCOMM provides as well as creates opportunities with the sole intention to make a student highly competitive and true professional. One to one career counseling is extended to every student prior to their industry exposure to help them identify their area of competence. "Our curriculum is designed in a way where B.Sc Mass Communication students undergo eight full months of internships, while the M.A students complete six months of internship in the reputed legacy media houses across India. Each student is assigned an industry as well as a faculty mentor to oversee the ongoing progress. On completion of internships, students are industry-ready. Most of the students are offered full-time employment opportunities by the host organizations where they have interned. We are glad to share that all our past students are employed either in production houses, news agencies, film industry, PR firms, event Management companies, ad agencies, photo studios, social media marketing and more", mentions Prof. Fr Donald.

When students try to discover themselves and prepare for the world, they also get formed in character and morals. They become true ambassadors of promoting and communicating life. When a student takes pride in calling oneself an XCOMMiTe, there is a sense of belongingness, a sense of human touch, a sense of loyalty and commitment. "Today, we need media professionals who would stand by the truth, have un-waivered faith in themselves and in the constitution and committed to their values and virtues. In other words, XCOMM students learn to be fully human and fully alive. XCOMM ensures to provide as well as create opportunities with the sole intention of making a student highly competitive and true media professional", signs off Prof. Fr Donald.

As the industry scenario is changing today, XCOMM makes every effort to keep to the basics of media studies with a greater commitment to society, in the spirit of Magis. XCOMM mentors its students to be critical thinkers, liberated scholars who are fearless, creative and self-expressive, who will look for deeper knowledge in education where one makes ethically sound decisions to protect the truth, value life and respect humanity at all cost.

Prof. Fr Donald D'Silva, S.J., Ph.D., Dean
An academician at heart who specializes in television production and journalism, Prof. Fr Donald D'Silva's core teaching interests are diverse - corporate leadership communication, business communication and ethics. He is currently teaching the MBA students in addition to the media students at the University. Prof. Fr Donald has conducted several corporate training programs in business communication, impression management, personality development, negotiation skills, work-life balance and media education. His research interests are signs and symbols, corporate communication and culture. Prof. Fr Donald has presented papers at several internationally acclaimed forums. Besides being in academics, he currently holds the position of Director-Finance of the University.