University enjoys moment in TV spotlight
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 22:10
Excitement spread among students and faculty after the popular NBC show The Office referenced Miami University in its ninth season premiere Sept. 20.
Early in the episode the character Kelly was shown running around the office throwing her winter jackets onto her coworkers’ desks. At the same time she was bragging about the warm weather she’d be enjoying once she got to Miami University, which she mistakenly thought was in Florida.
Claire Wagner, associate director of university communications, said she watched the episode and was pleasantly surprised when one of the characters pointed out on a map where Miami is actually located.
“The most recent [reference] from The Office let people know not only what part of Ohio we’re in, but brings up the point that that must be confusing pretty often,” Wagner said.
According to senior Eddie Kramer, word spread through Facebook of the university’s mention, which enticed him to find the episode on Hulu.
“I would have watched the episode anyway because I’m an Office fan, but [hearing about the reference] made me watch it sooner than I would have,” Kramer said.
Wagner said she was really excited to see the school recognized. However, she said it has little significance, and will only minimally increase peoples’ awareness of the school.
Bill Brewer—clinical faculty in the communication department—agreed.
“It’s kind of that knee-jerk reaction to publicity,” Brewer said. “That reaction is the thought that ‘everyone in the world sees this’. Like if your name is mentioned in the paper your initial reaction is ‘oh my gosh everyone’s seeing this’ right? But that’s not true.”
The Office mention is not the first pop culture reference in Miami history.
Wagner recalled a 2008 Saturday Night Live clip with Andy Samberg and Paul Rudd playing college students sporting Miami apparel.
“It’s a skit that they’ve done frequently about a family called the Vogelcheks,” Wagner said. “Naturally, because it’s on SNL it’s silly, but it’s a family that doesn’t just give pecks on the cheek. They really kiss each other like boyfriend and girlfriend do: mom, dad, brothers—that’s the joke.”
In addition, Wagner mentioned the inclusion of the Farmer School of Business and Hall Auditorium in the 2011 film The Ides of March.
“The Ides of March was certainly a popular movie, and we play ourselves because it mattered for the plot that the presidential candidates were in Ohio,” Wagner said.
“We are in about the first four or five minutes of the movie,” Wagner said. “You can very clearly see the ‘Farmer School of Business’ sign and the front of the building, and they mention [the university] in the audio part while a debate is going on.”
In addition to these mentions, Kramer said he believes that vice presidential candidate and Miami alum, Paul Ryan, will increase awareness of the university as well.
“[The media] mentions [Ryan’s education] whenever they talk about his background,” Kramer said. “People tend to research where politicians went to school, their education, their major, etcetera.”
However, Brewer said that though Ryan’s candidacy does slightly increase peoples’ awareness, it has very minimal affects.
“If we go outside of Miami and go a hundred miles away from here and asked where Paul Ryan went to school no one would know… ” Brewer said. “We go to Miami, so we’re very aware of it, but it’s a blip to everyone else.”
According to Brewer, each reference has an effect on peoples’ awareness and perception of Miami, but the more lasting impressions come from other places.
“Every mention increases awareness,” Brewer said. “But, I think that Miami’s awareness is already high because news in world reports, and school reports and those kinds of things that are highly, highly visible.”
Associate professor in the communication department, professor Bruce Drushel, also said that Ryan’s candidacy will have a minimal impact on Miami’s acknowledgment. He pointed out that what usually has the biggest impact are controversial events.
“If you want to talk about national exposure, unfortunately it tends to be the very good and the very bad that probably shape more impressions,” Drushel said.
Brewer said that rather than relying on references in pop culture to enhance and strengthen awareness of the university, it is up to students to go out into the world and make that impression themselves; the success of the school is largely based on the success of its graduates.
“People who know about Miami I think generally have a very positive image of it just in terms of the graduates,” Brewer said. “You know, everybody that graduates from here brings about an impression about Miami University as well.”