The Butler University College of Communication will welcome its first permanent dean next semester.
Gary Edgerton, currently a professor and chair of Communication and Theatre Arts at Old Dominion University, will join the Butler faculty on Aug. 1.
“I think we’re very fortunate to have Gary coming to Butler University,” LAS Dean Jay Howard, who chaired the search committee, said. “He brings very valuable and appropriate experiences, and he will be a visionary.”
New ideas are one way that Edgerton will aid CCOM, CCOM Interim Dean William Neher said.
“Looking at Old Dominion, his department has instituted some innovative programs,” he said. “I think you’re going to see a lot of new programs.”
Edgerton could not be reached for comment, but Neher has been in contact with him.
“He’s excited about the situation,” Neher said. “The reason he’s coming here is he sees a great deal of potential.”
Neher said that potential lies in Butler’s location and recognition and in CCOM’s mix of programs.
“He has ideas for making (CCOM) larger and better, and I think you’ll see a lot of growth,” Neher said.
Howard said that the search committee looked for a candidate who could bring credibility to the college.
“The College of Communication is a brand-new college, and you need a leader who has professional prestige to lend that credibility to the college,” he said.
The search began after candidates submitted applications in response to an ad. Members of the search committee ranked the candidates, narrowing them down to six finalists. After Skype interviews, the committee chose three finalists, who were then invited to campus.
One candidate withdrew his name, but the remaining two met with faculty, administrators and students. The final decision was left to President Jim Danko.
Howard said members of the committee kept a mindset that they not only had to look out for the interest of their program, but also had to look out for the interests of all the other programs in the college.
Neher said that Edgerton will look for a balance in his colleagues.
“One thing interesting that he is looking at is that in the first two years, we’ll have probably a 50 percent turnover in faculty,” Neher said. “That’s good because we’ll have enough people left—50 percent—who have the tradition and can carry on how we do things at Butler, but not so many that they won’t be dominating him.”
The new faculty will not have “any of the assumptions, preconceptions and rivalries from the older departments,” Neher said.
“That’s a really good advantage for a new dean,” he said.
Neher and Howard both agree that CCOM will benefit from Edgerton.
“He will help set the course for this brand-new college,” Howard said. “He’s the right person at the right time.”