From the Chair

Richard CampbellMJF just finished its second year as new department and remains the largest undergraduate department in CAS with nearly 1,300 majors. We also offer our students more online classes, more winter term classes, more workshops, and more internships than any other unit in our college.

Under Howard Kleiman’s direction, MJF remains a key driver of the Inside Washington Program, which offers both a spring semester and a summer workshop. The recent establishment of a “Miami in DC” alumni board will further enhance our Washington presence as we develop new types of workshops. Based on this model and with strong support from our alumni, MJF’s Inside Hollywood workshop continues each summer and winter term. We also have New York City workshops in the winter and summer. The former JRN study-abroad program in Kosovo has expanded and is now an MJF workshop, partnered with the international studies program (ITS) and geography. And this summer, faculty are developing new workshops in Chicago and Cuba.

We are also preparing for a major national conference at Miami and in Dayton (slated for Nov. 18-21, 2015), recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords. Miami alumnus Kenneth Merten, current U.S. Ambassador to Croatia, will deliver the keynote address at Miami. Witnesses to the war, journalists, documentary filmmakers and others from the U.S., Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo and Serbia will participate in various panels at the conference.

For the second year, MJF is sponsoring the Writing for Media Scholars program. Last year, we recruited 15 promising young writers and we have 21 this year. In their first year, students take a class with Professor Jim Tobin and with scholar-in-residence Wil Haygood, a former Boston Globe and Washington Post reporter and distinguished Miami alumnus.

Since I came to Miami 11 years ago to run the journalism program and later helped create the new MJF department, we have achieved a good balance between permanent faculty members – tenure-track, clinical, and lecturers – and visiting faculty. Many of our visitors continue to work as journalists, communication specialists, and PR professionals, offering our students (and faculty) insights into the enormous changes taking place in media industries. Our visitors also teach practical skills-based course (reporting, PR, video, production, and public speaking) that help make MJF popular among so many undergraduates (and their parents). MJF often pairs faculty in team-teaching arrangements with full-time professionals (a number of whom are Miami alumni) whose work schedules are demanding. For example, in the fall, senior JRN senior lecturer Patti Newberry and Bill Steiden, senior editor for shared content at Cox Media, will teach a capstone class titled “Dayton Peace Accords at 20: Telling Stories of War and Peace.”

We continue to better promote our various majors and co-majors as models for blending conceptual learning with practical skills. In addition to developing more alumni-driven workshops, we also continue to find innovative ways to use some of our best alumni in the classroom. MJF students benefit from interaction with guests from across the media spectrum. Among them: Miami alumni Rick Ludwin (ex-NBC exec), Terence Moore (CNN, ESPN), Katie Lee (Food Network), Amy Scalia (Cincy Chic) and Rachel Rudwall (Discovery Channel), all now prominent in their professions. We also had three guests from the Alumni Association’s “18 of the Last 9” line-up: Pulkit Datta, ’08 Mass Comm, filmmaker and writer; Beth Stebner, ’08 Mass Comm, lifestyle editor/digital for the New York Daily News; and Ashley Mallon Walters, ’08 Strategic Communication, vice president of Powerhouse Factories.

With the addition of five new tenure-track faculty this fall, MJF also addresses one of its chief long-range goals – building a stronger scholarly culture. Our newest faculty will further develop the STC major, moving it away from its roots in the Speech COM side of the old communication department and more toward contemporary media, social networking and multimedia production. They will teach and create new analytical and critical courses that are the bedrock of any good humanities department housed in the liberal arts.

Special congratulations this year to Steve Siff, who was tenured and promoted to the rank of associate professor. His first book, Acid Hype: American News Media and the Psychedelic Experience, is just out from the University of Illinois Press. Congratulations too to Bill Brewer and Annie Blair, who were both promoted to the rank of senior clinical faculty.

Best wishes,

Richard Campbell