Thursday, August 30, 2007

A few words from the windy city...


I'm in Chicago, attending a meeting of our national accrediting council, and I just read the Ithacan Online (which, by the way, is looking pretty darned snazzy....)

And besides the fact that I look like I just ate a lemon or a rodent or something in that photo (it's not the photog's fault...I actually do look like that...), I thought they did a really good job on the story about all the administrators who have decided that it's time to move on to the next phase of their careers or personal lives (I guess retirement is a career phase...).

And I know some of you are really mad at me. I understand. Some days, I'm mad at me, too.

But that's not what this particular blog posting is about.

It's about the fact that I did talk about the journalism department when Aaron interviewed me, and his summary was accurate. But we were talking about me, not the Journalism Department, so I didn't hijack his interview and tell him about all the things we HAVE done in the department since I met with the students in January.

So I've decided to tell you all instead. (Let's face it: it's a heck of a lot better than more talking about me....)

For starters, Mead Loop is now back in the classroom full-time, which is a great gift to all of his students and his colleagues (because he's also serving as our Master Teacher this semester, which means he will spend at least some of his time mentoring and guiding his colleagues who are newer to Park).

We hired Ryan Parkhurst on a more permanent basis, not only because he's really terrific and we love having him around but because many of our students asked us to bring in (more permanently) somebody who could really help us focus on broadcast journalism.

We are delighted to welcome Vadim Isakov, a brilliant young journalist from Uzbekistan, who will be teaching Global Journalism and Issues in the News, and who will be working and meeting with journalism students for brown-bag lunches and other small-group programs.

We've been recruiting all summer for the director of our new Center for Independent Media (you should have seen our Flash ads on Romanesko), and it worked: we have some outstanding candidates and we'll be scheduling those interviews in the next few weeks (we waited until you all came back to campus).

We got 19 backpack journalism kits, which are totally amazing and cool and will help you master the practices of multimedia journalism, and you're going to love them.

All of the journalism faculty (as well as several other faculty and staff) participated in an intensive training session this summer on digital storytelling, and those new skills will undoubtedly be integrated into their courses this year.

A team of us is going to teach Digital Journalism this fall, testing out a new model that really leverages the talents and strengths of several different people in the school to give students (we hope) an extraordinary learning experience that will really prepare them to be multimedia reporters. (I'll keep you posted!)

Virginia Mansfield-Richardson, our associate dean, has very kindly agreed to take on administrative responsibilities for the department while we continue to search for a department chair. She and I went to Washington DC in August (it was HOT) to attend the Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication conference, where we spent a lot of time (she really did) recruiting candidates. We met some exceptional people who are very interested, and we came away from that experience really struck by what a great reputation the Park School has across the country.

We're also searching a tenure-track faculty line in the department, which means we will have a new center director this fall, and a new department chair and faculty member next year.

And we're planning the first national conference on Independent Media, which will take place the first weekend in December in the Park School.


So Aaron was right: I wish things were COMPLETELY perfect. But we're getting there...and I feel really good about that (and all you journalism folks should, too....)

I'm off to find some real Chicago pizza (last time I was in this city, a pickpocket took my wallet while I was walking down Michigan Avenue and spent $1800 in about 40 minutes -- including buying himself a pair of $800 snakeskin boots....but that's a story for another day/blog...)

Cheers! And welcome back, by the way. I am SO glad to see you all.


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