#savecomm

Provost Dr. Gillian Small Interview Transcript

but our independent study we

00:03

are looking at like the importance of

00:05

communication like not just as a major

00:07

but like also in like all of their

00:08

fields and just like

00:10

the importance of it for a university um

00:13

and that’s like our

00:14

main project that we’re working on that

00:16

will end up being our final

00:18

so there were some rumors like

00:21

circulating

00:22

about the possible end of the

00:24

communication department at metro

00:26

and then i know that dean weinman had

00:28

sent out that email to all of the

00:29

communication

00:30

students so it’s kind of wondering if

00:33

you could like

00:33

explain a little bit more about the

00:35

taking like an academic year off from

00:37

admitting people to the program and like

00:39

what went into this decision

00:42

yeah let me let me just talk a little

00:43

bit about uh you know first of all

00:46

what transpired and then what are what

00:48

our plans are and of course we

00:50

you know we always have to think these

00:51

things through and talk to a lot of

00:53

people to figure out what’s

00:55

the best next step but as you may know

00:57

um

00:58

two senior faculty members on the metro

01:01

campus in the communication

01:02

department uh decided to leave the

01:05

university

01:06

um uh one particular

01:09

with rather short notice so and

01:11

obviously in the middle of us dealing

01:13

with you know the pandemic and

01:14

everything else

01:16

um so it caused us to take a look

01:21

uh at the um at the program uh to take a

01:24

look at our enrollments what’s been

01:25

happening over

01:26

time and uh to make a plan

01:30

uh as to how to to go forward so

01:33

um unfortunately the enrollment has been

01:37

decreasing

01:38

year after year uh actually a little bit

01:40

on both campuses but especially at the

01:42

metro campus we

01:44

uh in 2008 had 102 students in the

01:47

program

01:48

uh and then that’s just dropped every

01:50

year now down to about 42.

01:53

um on the floor on campus we have about

01:55

100 students in the in the program

01:57

now so the question is why and i’m not

02:00

an expert in this particular field but

02:03

so we we talked to other people and i

02:04

think

02:05

you know we came to the conclusion or

02:07

they did and i agree actually

02:09

that uh we need to revamp the the

02:12

program a little bit on the metro campus

02:15

to cater for the future

02:16

right which is uh as you probably know

02:19

in digital communication in multimedia

02:21

journalism and broadcasting broadcasting

02:23

is very important also on the

02:26

metro campus so we’re planning to do

02:28

that but

02:29

obviously we have to hire a faculty

02:31

member in that

02:32

with that expertise we’re just working

02:35

on a job description right now actually

02:38

um you know uh hiring an academic

02:41

faculty member we have to get the right

02:42

person it takes a little time

02:44

uh and that person will be charged once

02:48

hired with

02:50

really re developing this curricula uh

02:52

so that we can really

02:54

support going in that direction and then

02:56

we’ll make a decision

02:58

is that enough obviously we’re hoping

03:00

that the enrollment starts to

03:02

increase and then we can sort of make

03:05

decisions about future faculty in that

03:07

area um

03:08

going forward because uh obviously we

03:10

need full-time

03:12

uh faculty at the university if we if we

03:14

want to support a strong

03:16

a strong major so in talking to the

03:19

enrollment

03:19

uh folks we said well we can’t really

03:22

take students into a program

03:25

that we haven’t yet developed but we

03:27

don’t want to lose students who might be

03:29

interested in communication

03:31

so certainly any students who express an

03:33

interest in communication we will have

03:36

a communication faculty talk to them and

03:38

and our enrollment people talk to them

03:40

and suggest you know that they can

03:42

definitely come to the university they

03:44

can either

03:45

come in as undeclared or exploring that

03:48

area

03:49

um and then transfer into the full major

03:51

in year two

03:52

once hopefully we’ve got this all up and

03:54

running and we’ve got the faculty member

03:56

hired

03:56

but we have to be uh transparent about

03:59

about the situation so we can’t say yes

04:00

sure we have this major right now

04:02

when we’re really working on on

04:05

retooling it and

04:06

and building it up so that’s what we

04:08

plan to do

04:10

and that’s uh so whilst we’re not

04:13

accepting students directly into the

04:14

major this year that doesn’t mean to say

04:16

that we’re not at

04:17

metro it doesn’t mean to say that we’re

04:19

not encouraging those students to come

04:21

to fdu

04:22

giving them a pathway to that major uh

04:25

you know many many students as you

04:27

probably know

04:28

either don’t declare their major until

04:31

the end of their first year

04:32

or they transfer quite often during

04:36

during their first few semesters at the

04:38

university so that could still be

04:40

possible

04:41

but we just have to be honest about

04:42

where we are with this and that we don’t

04:44

have that faculty member yet

04:46

we’re going to do the search as quickly

04:48

as possible and uh

04:50

you know charge them immediately with

04:51

working on this curriculum but i think

04:53

this is what we need to do it’s the

04:55

right time to do it

04:57

to really make sure that we have you

04:59

know a 21st century

05:00

uh program that really

05:04

is geared up to the future of

05:06

communications and uh and multimedia

05:08

journalism and broadcasting

05:10

and the likes and that’s that’s what

05:13

we’re planning to do so

05:14

i’m happy to have this opportunity to

05:16

clarify that with you and uh

05:18

um you know we’re moving forward in that

05:22

direction

05:25

thank you and and when you’re

05:26

referencing the two

05:28

two full-time faculty like leaving the

05:31

university

05:32

in the email to students it was said the

05:33

one-year cut was just to get more

05:35

faculty

05:35

was this due to the loss of the two and

05:37

then how many new faculty

05:39

is the university looking to hire and

05:41

will they be full-time or adjunct

05:43

professors

05:44

yeah well as i said the faculty member

05:45

that we’ve done that we’re going to

05:46

start the search for now

05:48

will be a full-time professor um uh

05:52

and uh you know that that will enable us

05:56

to get the

05:57

uh the program um to start develop the

06:01

new program

06:02

and then obviously we always uh have to

06:05

monitor

06:06

what the enrollment looks like i mean

06:07

our whole hope and goal

06:09

is that it doesn’t keep declining like

06:11

this right is that it we turn that

06:13

around and

06:13

uh and increase the enrollment in which

06:16

case as i said we can look at um

06:18

you know adding another full-time

06:20

faculty member as and when

06:22

in in the um in the initial stage uh

06:25

obviously we

06:26

we as in many programs have uh

06:29

adjunct faculty but we don’t want to

06:31

rely clearly on a major that’s important

06:33

to

06:34

to the campus uh to rely on on

06:37

adjunct faculty is just not fair so

06:40

we’re getting one full-time uh faculty

06:43

member search now

06:44

and then we’ll monitor it as we go

06:46

forward and assuming we can

06:48

you know increase uh the enrollment and

06:52

stop

06:52

stop the decline and i’m pretty uh

06:55

optimistic that we can if we if we

06:57

withdraw in the way that i just

06:59

mentioned

07:00

um and then we’ll consider adding you

07:02

know another full-time faculty member as

07:04

as we get that enrollment to the

07:05

university

07:08

thank you how do you think this break

07:10

from admitting comm students will affect

07:12

other parts of the university such as

07:14

incoming athletes

07:15

communication organizations on campus

07:17

like the newspaper and radio station

07:20

i mean it really shouldn’t because as i

07:21

said you know it’s not like we’re

07:23

selling those students

07:24

you know no you can’t come there’s no

07:26

communication major at metro we’re

07:28

saying

07:28

absolutely you can come uh

07:32

you know i don’t know if you’re aware

07:33

but we have many students who come to

07:34

the university without declaring their

07:36

major

07:37

in the first year and we have areas you

07:40

know exploring

07:41

uh exploring the liberal arts and

07:43

sciences and different exploring the

07:45

sciences exploring this they

07:46

so they can get definitely come in under

07:49

that

07:49

auspices and um they will be guided

07:53

to take the right courses during their

07:55

first year so it will be a seamless

07:56

transition into

07:58

into this major if that’s what they

08:00

would like to do in the second year

08:02

i just you know in all transparency we

08:05

can’t say

08:06

come into this major right now because

08:08

we just don’t have the curriculum

08:10

built um yes and that’s what this new

08:13

faculty member will be charged with

08:15

doing immediately that they join the

08:16

university

08:18

i actually came into the university

08:20

undecided and then

08:22

um i admitted students day that was

08:23

whenever i realized that communication

08:25

was what i wanted to do

08:26

so i totally get a lot of students like

08:31

were like me and didn’t know what they

08:32

were right right

08:34

that happens and then we get a lot of

08:35

students actually my son is a uh

08:38

is a freshman in college this year at

08:40

another college and uh he’s been you

08:42

know obviously he’s

08:44

he’s actually doing remote at the moment

08:45

but um his high school friends

08:48

who all you know he was closely close

08:51

friends with and who discussed other

08:53

majors i think every one of them except

08:55

him has changed what they’re planning to

08:57

do after just a semester at the

08:58

university anyway this is very common

09:01

for our own students as well so um

09:04

you know that first year we just have to

09:06

make sure that the courses that you take

09:08

in the first year that any student takes

09:10

are flexible enough that if that’s what

09:12

their sort of interests show an interest

09:13

in

09:14

that those will be seamlessly

09:15

transferred into their major as they

09:17

as they decide and move into second year

09:20

so this is kind of like moving into more

09:23

of just like a general academic

09:24

standpoint

09:25

but i want to know what advice you have

09:27

for students who are

09:28

kind of struggling to fulfill

09:30

requirements within their degree audit

09:32

especially like students like me and jen

09:34

who will be graduating within the next

09:35

year i know

09:36

covid has kind of caused for a lot of

09:38

courses that like

09:39

i specifically need to take to like

09:41

finish my minor to like not be happening

09:43

because my mind is in speech

09:44

and like speech kind of has to be like

09:46

more in person besides like this the

09:47

general public speaking courses and

09:50

there’s also just like a lot that like

09:52

in the comm department we don’t really

09:53

have like as many like hands-on

09:55

classes right now because of being

09:58

online so i want to know like what

09:59

advice

09:59

you have for students that are like kind

10:01

of struggling to find classes to take to

10:03

like fulfill

10:04

their last few semesters yeah well look

10:08

uh first of all let me say you know

10:11

we are hoping and planning to be much

10:14

more

10:15

you know in person in the form um

10:20

you know that’s that’s uh very much our

10:22

hope and that’s the way we’re planning

10:24

it may be uh you know a new type of in

10:28

person where there will be

10:29

hybrid classes because we may still be i

10:32

fully expect

10:33

this to be wearing masks at some level i

10:35

fully expect that there’ll be some

10:37

social distancing still but we’re all

10:38

hopeful that things are much better in

10:40

the core

10:41

and we’re planning to have at the moment

10:44

as we’re planning out our classes before

10:46

we’re planning for them to be

10:48

uh in person for the most part you know

10:50

those ones that we can

10:52

um but we probably will have to call

10:54

most of them hybrid classes because

10:57

uh we just don’t have the capacity

10:59

unless

11:00

and again we’re all trying to predict

11:01

the future right and we don’t know

11:03

but at the moment the uh the capacity of

11:07

our rooms with social distancing

11:09

just don’t allow us to have a full class

11:11

for many of the classes

11:13

so even those classes that are taking

11:15

place this semester that are

11:17

in person they’re sort of in person

11:19

slash

11:21

so that’s you know some students are in

11:24

um in the room and some people are

11:27

joining

11:28

by by zoom uh as we’re talking now

11:31

so we have um outfitted with technology

11:34

many of our classrooms not all by any

11:36

means but many of them

11:37

uh with uh with the technology to allow

11:40

that so they’ve got built-in microphones

11:42

and they’ve got screens at the front and

11:43

back of the room so that the students

11:45

can

11:46

see what’s going on and actually i was

11:47

talking to a faculty member

11:50

late last week two faculties actually

11:53

one who said i got a class of 18 14 were

11:56

in the room and four joined by zoo

11:58

and then another faculty member said i

12:00

think he said i had about

12:02

i think 16 17 students in the class and

12:05

three were in the room

12:06

and everybody else had joined by zoom so

12:08

there’s very there’s a lot of different

12:09

reasons why why

12:11

students would do you know some students

12:13

are not ready to come back

12:15

to in person yet some students may have

12:18

tested positive or have

12:19

contact traced uh to have been somebody

12:22

so they can’t come

12:23

so we’re trying to be flexible for all

12:25

of those

12:26

scenarios but it means that we do have

12:29

the technology in many of the classrooms

12:32

uh so that it doesn’t have to it doesn’t

12:34

you know we can do it in a number of

12:35

different ways some faculty are doing

12:37

their hybrid courses

12:38

such that half the class is in the room

12:41

for the first time the class meets in a

12:43

week and the other

12:45

half uh they may be doing something else

12:47

asynchronously

12:49

but then it switched with the second

12:50

class so that that half that we’re not

12:52

in the room come

12:52

in person and the other half do

12:54

something asynchronously

12:56

or it may be that i’ve come in person

12:58

and the other half joined by

12:59

by zoom so we’ve really left that

13:01

flexibility to the

13:02

faculty members because as you say

13:05

different

13:06

uh disciplines and different subject

13:09

areas blend better to joining in zoom

13:11

than others right so

13:13

uh we’ve left that flexibility of the

13:15

faculty members so i’m hoping

13:16

it’s a long way of answering your

13:18

question i’m hoping that in the fall

13:19

you’ll be able to get the classes that

13:21

you want

13:22

in the way that uh you know in the uh

13:25

modality that uh

13:26

that best suits those classes which is

13:28

in person for many of them

13:30

if there are any students who have not

13:33

been able to get a class that they need

13:35

uh they need to let uh you know their uh

13:39

advisor or dean or school director or or

13:42

whoever they talk with know that

13:45

uh especially if they need you know to

13:46

graduate because that we don’t want to

13:48

happen with them

13:50

uh we are offering a number of summer

13:51

courses uh at a discount uh if you take

13:54

more than one

13:55

um to try and help some students who

13:58

need to catch up

13:59

or who who want to get ahead uh

14:02

at a reasonable cost to them so we’re

14:05

trying to do as many things as we can

14:07

we’ll do the same thing i think

14:09

in the winter session we did it last

14:10

winter session and we’ll probably do it

14:12

again in the winter session to really

14:14

again help students

14:15

to catch up so if there are specific

14:17

courses that you’re concerned

14:19

or any student is concerned hasn’t been

14:22

offered

14:23

and that they starting to worry well

14:25

will it be offered before i have to

14:26

graduate

14:27

they should really have that

14:28

conversation because uh the sooner

14:31

um you know people who are scheduling

14:33

the classes know about it the more we

14:35

can sort of

14:35

work to get those courses uh to make

14:38

sure that they’re they’re offered

14:40

we don’t want to delay students from

14:41

graduating because they can’t find

14:44

the courses they need to do so

14:48

thank you for now we kind of want to

14:50

take it

14:51

just back to com communications just a

14:53

little bit but

14:54

in terms of why do you feel

14:56

communication is fundamental not just

14:58

for communication majors

14:59

but for the and minors but for the

15:01

entire university population

15:05

well uh look um

15:06

[Music]

15:08

i was just driving over here this

15:11

morning and listening to

15:13

npr which is my one to them

15:17

excuse me

15:21

good job you’re not in the room with me

15:22

um uh

15:24

and and they were talking about um

15:28

just the way anything is communicated

15:30

these days actually they were talking

15:32

you know a lot about conspiracy theories

15:34

but it’s and how much they’ve grown

15:36

through communication and through

15:38

multimedia and through

15:40

uh online platforms but i mean it’s just

15:42

a way of life

15:43

so that’s number one people need to

15:45

understand uh

15:47

some of these issues and uh

15:50

i will also tell you that um

15:54

when we talk to folks in industry or in

15:58

business or in

15:59

incumbents who employ our students

16:02

we ask them what they’re looking for in

16:05

graduates that they’re

16:06

hoping to uh to employ and obviously

16:10

they want

16:10

you know depending on what area it is

16:12

they want students to know about those

16:14

areas

16:15

but the number one and number two is

16:17

always we need people to be able to

16:19

speak um and interact clearly

16:22

and we need people to be able to write

16:24

and communicate clearly

16:26

so these are just two fundamentals of

16:28

whatever you’re going into

16:31

um in order to be successful you know uh

16:34

i trained in the sciences and and part

16:37

of the reason when i was younger at

16:38

least you might find this hard to

16:40

believe now but when i was younger it

16:41

was like i thought i didn’t want to

16:43

interact with people that much and uh

16:45

i was going to be in the lab and work

16:47

with you know experiments and things

16:48

like that but

16:49

you very quickly find out that in

16:51

science you need to be able to

16:52

communicate you need to be able to write

16:54

manuscripts you need to be able to write

16:56

grant proposals

16:57

and you need to be able to communicate

16:59

your science

17:00

i mean this pandemic is um

17:04

a prime example of that i think

17:06

communications because

17:08

i talk to a lot of people and they say

17:09

oh why don’t they get their guidance

17:11

straight why don’t they tell us what we

17:12

need to do first they say you don’t need

17:13

to

17:14

wear masks then they say you do need to

17:15

make a mask then they say if you’re

17:17

vaccinated you just don’t need to

17:18

why don’t they get it straight and i’m

17:20

saying well you know

17:22

it’s because the the research is still

17:24

coming out this is a new virus people

17:26

don’t know about it the more research

17:28

that’s done

17:28

the um the more clear they can be with

17:32

the guidelines but

17:34

uh people need to be able to communicate

17:37

this so that people understand it and i

17:39

think part of the frustration was

17:40

sometimes

17:41

the lack of understanding of the

17:43

communications that are going out

17:45

so uh it’s become very important

17:49

in the science fields as well as many

17:51

other fields that

17:52

you know to be able to communicate

17:54

clearly and concisely

17:56

uh to the general public is critical

18:00

so um i i think it’s just in every

18:03

discipline

18:03

i’m sure you agree yes

18:06

thank you um so kind of just i know you

18:09

talked about this a little bit but i was

18:10

wondering if the university has like a

18:12

specific

18:13

vision for the future of the

18:14

communication department metro i know

18:16

you spoke more about like

18:17

moving towards that multimedia type of

18:20

um discipline which i know that with the

18:22

restructuring there are like new

18:24

concentrations compared to like whenever

18:26

i was admitted to the university but i

18:27

was wondering

18:28

like what the exact vision is and like

18:30

hopes for the future

18:31

as far as like classes being offered and

18:35

just what a comm major should come out

18:37

of fdu

18:39

knowing and how that would like be

18:42

different from like any other university

18:45

well i said sure thank you i look i’m

18:47

not claiming to be the expert in this

18:49

area so i i refer to the experts right

18:51

to get um

18:52

to work on the curriculum and to work on

18:55

uh

18:56

the the learning outcomes what should

18:57

the student know and but

18:59

but i did refer to the fact that i think

19:03

um going forward i think uh

19:06

you know digital communication and

19:09

multimedia journalism broadcasting

19:12

are the areas that we will concentrate

19:14

on at the metro campus

19:16

i think that’s exciting i think it is

19:17

the future

19:19

i think um you know all too often

19:22

uh in academia

19:25

um people you know don’t look at the

19:29

uh the makeup of different programs as

19:33

as regular as regulars as lee as perhaps

19:37

they should and this is not just you

19:38

know at fdu in universities in general

19:40

we can’t keep

19:41

redoing uh uh the curriculum the majors

19:44

but this is very timely because i think

19:46

this is um

19:47

this is an area that has changed you

19:50

know in our lifetimes

19:51

right uh certainly in my lifetime uh

19:55

given that i’m uh significantly older

19:57

than

19:58

you guys i i’ve seen these changes but

20:01

the trajectory of the change has been

20:04

enormous in the last i would say 10

20:06

years and we we do need to pivot

20:10

and make sure that we offer an exciting

20:13

curriculum but also a curriculum that

20:16

will

20:18

train our students for these rapid

20:20

changes and i think

20:22

uh if we encompass uh those areas

20:25

digital communication multimedia

20:28

um tied in with broadcasting which

20:31

which we want to continue to to work on

20:34

the metro campus that will be the focus

20:37

of the metro campus

20:38

not necessarily at the floral campus

20:40

because um

20:42

you know they have a a different type of

20:44

program that’s fine

20:46

we need to to look at that as well as i

20:48

said the enrollment has

20:50

uh dipped on that campus as well but not

20:53

as

20:54

uh significantly as on the metro campus

20:57

um for reasons i i don’t really

21:00

understand but let’s try

21:01

this you know new area that you know if

21:04

you

21:04

if you google those areas you’ll see

21:07

that uh

21:09

um that that this is the future i think

21:12

of

21:13

of communications for uh for many

21:16

students but

21:17

students definitely um

21:20

who want to to go into those areas and

21:23

and be part of

21:24

um digital um communications and uh

21:28

and broadcasting so

21:30

[Music]

21:32

that’s the goal for for for the metro

21:34

campus at least i think it’s a good one

21:36

um i hope you you agree and i think

21:40

you know we’ll try to excite um students

21:43

will not once we have their curriculum

21:44

and even before that we’ll start

21:46

marketing this

21:47

um uh as as the uh

21:50

as the program concentration at the

21:53

metro campus and hopefully we can

21:55

build the program up again which is i

21:58

think uh

21:59

their goal of course everyone

22:03

thank you um i just want to say thank

22:04

you so much for coming on and like

22:06

speaking with us today

22:07

and i will let you guys know if we have

22:09

any follow-up questions

22:10

we just kind of wanted to get like a

22:11

broader sense of what exactly like the

22:13

future of the university looks like for

22:15

the comm department

22:16

that way we can relate it to how um

22:18

communication is looking like nationally

22:20

something that we’re like looking into

22:22

is the job market and like what skills

22:24

do

22:25

like people who want to go into

22:26

communication need now versus like

22:28

five ten years ago so sure that sounds

22:31

great

22:32

and we i look forward to seeing what you

22:34

uh

22:35

what you uh your final family

22:38

produced because you know it’ll all help

22:40

in our

22:41

in our preparing for for the program for

22:43

the future so

22:44

i’m always happy to talk to you i i know

22:47

rumors are scammed and

22:48

uh and uh you know ever if ever you’re

22:51

concerned about

22:52

things that you’re hearing it’s always

22:53

best to come to the source and sometimes

22:55

we’ll say things that you

22:56

perhaps don’t want to hear sometimes

22:57

you’ll say things that you want to hear

22:59

but it’s better

23:00

that we tell you and i will say that you

23:02

know we had to decide what to do so we

23:04

were a little undecided to begin with

23:07

as we as we looked at the uh

23:10

the enrollments going down and the

23:12

faculty leaving um

23:14

but a very clear decision has now been

23:15

made and that’s the trajectory that

23:17

we’re moving forward

23:19

i’m really excited to see what the

23:21

future of comm looks like at fdu

23:23

especially for like

23:24

you know i’m the editor-in-chief of the

23:26

equinox now and we’ve only been going up

23:28

since um i joined the newspaper so i’m

23:31

really hoping that if the implement goes

23:33

up the

23:33

newspaper can do even greater things in

23:36

the future

23:38

well i wish you both luck for the rest

23:40

of the semester stay stay and

23:42

stay safe and healthy and uh let’s hope

23:45

um

23:46

the summer and the floor bring uh bring

23:48

a new normal

23:50

hopefully thank you have a great day

23:53

thank you ladies take care

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Categories: #savecomm

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