The College of Communications, Butler University’s newest college, will move forward with its newly-appointed dean Gary Edgeton watching over the process.
“Numerous things (drew me to Butler),” Edgerton said. “It’s unique that an institution has a college of communication, and it’s doubly unique because most of the institutions that have them have been around for a while.”
Edgerton came from Old Dominion University in Virginia. He was the department chair of its communication in theater arts program for 18 years and has experience in almost all of the different disciplines of communication.
By the time he left Old Dominion, almost 900 students were in his program. He came to Butler for the opportunity to help the college develop.
In a recent survey by the American Management Association, managers and business executives ranked communication skills as the most important in today’s workplace.
Edgerton said he sees the field of communication growing even further in the coming years.
“It is an opportunity to get in on the ground floor and work with colleagues to build an important unit here at Butler,” Edgerton said. “This is a rare opportunity and something I would really love to do.”
Edgerton said he is currently working with the faculty of CCOM to craft the future of the college.
He said he aims to make the college emphasize “today’s coursework, tomorrow’s careers.”
Ann Savage, associate professor of communication, said that the college plans to do this through its inclusivity. She said Edgerton and the faculty want to make classes in CCOM easily available to students from any college at Butler.
“He wants input from the faculty about the vision,” Savage said. “When he was asked (about his vision) at interviews, he said, ‘I don’t know enough about you yet.’ I think this was the correct answer. He definitely seeks a lot of input from the faculty.”
In the two months Edgerton has been here, the college has made some decisions about the programs it offers.
Savage said Edgerton is interested in maintaining the internship program and internationalizing the curriculum and opportunities for the students.
“He has worked with advancement in terms of having all kinds of initiatives to raise money,” she said.
Nancy Whitmore, director of the Eugene S. Pulliam School of Journalism, said Edgerton has done a lot to involve the faculty.
“I’m very impressed with his ability to lead even in this short period of time,” Whitmore said. “He has gotten the faculty together numerous times, and we have regular program director meetings.”
Whitmore said Edgerton has been a good leader in this period of transition as the college plans for its future.
“We are taking on the task of how to build and grow our programs and how to position our college among the other colleges of the university, as well as in the market itself,” Whitmore said. “I’m very excited and very happy that he is here.”