Collaboration was a major topic for the College of Communication dean candidates as they visited Butler University throughout the past week.
Glenda Balas and Gary Edgerton, the two candidates, said they would like to work within the college and alongside the other colleges to combine skills and perspectives.
Balas said she would like to bring in diverse majors to work on a common project.
She said she likes to empower people through resources and support and bring in alternative ideas.
“I look for creative solutions,” she said. “And I’m not afraid to look outside the box and bring people into a project.”
Edgerton said he would like to integrate skills from other programs into majors in CCOM. He said one example is pairing with the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences to discuss health communication but said communication is vital to most professions.
“Communication is the kind of discipline that really lends itself to a lot of collaboration with the other colleges,” he said.
Both said one of the challenges facing a new dean is unifying a diverse college. Balas said while differences exist, there are common aspects that can bring programs together.
“If you go around the table, they’re all rooted in a similar theoretical construct,” she said.
Edgerton said he would spend time meeting with the associate dean, program chairs and faculty before forming a plan for the college.
But he said that the programs are more similar than different, and one department’s advances promote benefits for the others.
“The success of that broader college will bring success on the local level with programs as well,” he said.
Edgerton is currently the chair of the communication and theater arts department at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.
He said that a well-rounded program brings in both theory and practice, which better prepares students for their careers in the longrun.
“It’s not that what they were learning didn’t help them get to a place, but it isn’t a straight, logical line necessarily,” he said. “Having a broad base communication education prepares you for lots of different jobs.”
Balas is currently chair of the department of communication and journalism at the University of New Mexico. From 2008 to 2010 she was chair of the department of mass communication at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.
A balance between practical skills and academics is important, Balas said. She said theory and criticism are vital, but every classroom experience should include some experiential content, whether it is in a film, academic publication, media publication or some other form of experience.
“The academic has to inform the practice, and the practice illustrates the academics, and it has to be integrated,” she said.
Edgerton said he would prefer not to comment on the role of adjunct professors, but Balas said that bringing on professionals as adjuncts helps to inform academics. At New Mexico, Balas said she tried to bring more adjunct professors and actively sought out talented professionals who were good teachers to integrate into the program.
“They bring so much to students, and the fresh experiences that they bring are invaluable,” she said.
Rachel Senn, a senior digital media production major, attended student meetings with both candidates. She said the meetings allowed students to interact with the candidates as a group and was happy the candidates addressed the role of student media in the meetings.
“No matter their major, students want to participate in those things,” Senn said.
Senn said that the candidates could have focused more on the role of fundraising and building a strong and diverse faculty.
“As the college grows, we’re going to need more money,” she said.