November 27, 2020

First SOC dean candidate meets students and faculty during visit

The School of Communications (SOC) search committee started to interview candidates for the SOC dean position on April 17.

Eric Rothenbuhler,  associate dean of the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, spoke in the Winifred Moore Auditorium about his goals for the SOC . He is the first of four

BRITTANY RUESS / The Journal Eric Rothenbuhler, currently an associate dean of the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, interviewed for the SOC dean position April 17.

candidates who will visit Webster in the next two weeks.

During his first day on campus, Rothenbuhler conducted three separate question and answer sessions. Seventy students, faculty, staff and administration attended the three question and answer sessions. Rothenbuhler discussed his vision for the SOC including the integration of theory and practice for the students. He plans to make the SOC a part of the global picture.
“Globalization is one of the top two or three practices around the world,” he said. “Communications technology is one of the drivers for that. It’s our responsibility to understand this process and teach others this process.”

He said he wants to focus on different types of multiple media productions and integrate one medium with the other.

“When did radio stations start hiring graphic designers? When the web came,” Rothenbuhler said. “All the media today is integrated. Once it’s all digital, the difference between them
starts to shrink.”

He said he wants faculty to teach students to think comparatively about media and understand the difference of storytelling through radio, still photos and video. He said focusing on the fundamentals of writing, storytelling, research, composition and ethics will help prepare students for a long and successful future.

“We are teaching them how to achieve their goals with the best, expensive, professional- quality cameras and how to do it again with this camera you got from Kmart and make it beautiful, make it effective. Now we’re preparing them for their future,” Rothenbuhler said.

Gary Ford, associate professor and a member of the SOC dean search committee, introduced Rothenbuhler during the three sessions.

“The selection of a dean is one of the most important things that happens because the dean’s position impacts the lives and the success of the students,” Ford said. “The process is extensive and inclusive.”

When current SOC Dean Debra Carpenter announced announced her resignation as dean, a search committee formed. This committee searched internationally for candidates.

Patty Senft, senior public relations major, is the only student on the search committee. Since she was chosen to be on the committee, she has had students tell her what they want in the new dean.

“We have some big shoes to fill,” Senft said. “Students want our studios to expand and have upgrades on all of the equipment. They want someone who’s visible like Dean Carpenter.”

The committee narrowed their search to eight possible contenders. They chose four candidates from those eight. Each of the four candidates will spend two days at Webster to see how they fit with the university. After each candidate has been interviewed, a final decision will be made. The final interview is scheduled for the second week of May.

Jorge Oliver, chair of the electronics and photographic media department, is part of the search committee and said the SOC has unique programs.

“We’re ready to take the next step,” Oliver said. “We had the right dean for 16 years and now, we’re choosing a dean for the future.”

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