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Dean candidate explains plan for College of Communication


Dr. Leroy G. Dorsey of the University of Memphis has a “vision or action plan” for the future of the Bob Schieffer College of Communication.

Dorsey, one of two candidates for the open position of Dean of the College of Communication, explained the challenges facing the discipline, including the need to connect to the public and find additional funding.

“This college houses a discipline that is the foundation for our civilization,” Dorsey said. He added that communication is “also the superstructure to advance our civilization.”

Dorsey’s vision 

Creating a vibrant learning community was at the top of the discussion for Dorsey. Collaborations across campuses and providing different modes of lectures can achieve this community, Dorsey said.

Accelerating the college’s connection with the greater community will achieve this as well.

“As a dean I would incentivize faculty to embed a project for the students and faculty members to focus on a non-profit, for one issue, for one year,” Dorsey said. “This creates a unified identity for the college in the community.

“The community will think of this college as a true partner and unify the units in the college on one issue in the community.”

Recruiting and retaining faculty, students and staff is another portion of Dorsey’s vision for the college.

“Diversity is equal to educational excellence,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey spoke about the consideration of creating an accelerated degree program for both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in order to retain students, gain diversity and make sure the climate is conducive to students.

In regard to faculty, he said that “small faculty to student ratios means increasing faculty sizes.”

Not only will the faculty have more time with each of their students, but more time for scholarly creativity, Dorsey said.

“I believe that in order to be a great teacher, you have got to have your hand in your discipline,” he said.

Dorsey said the biggest thing is to pay attention to the faculty’s attitude surrounding decisions being made in the college.

The final portion of his “vision or action plan” is that “the dean needs to be a good fundraiser.”

Dorsey ended bt saying, “All these ideas are just ideas, they are not dictates. They are challenges to you to brainstorm about endeavors.”

“The solutions to the challenges I mentioned are in this room, and it is the dean’s job to facilitate the discussion, to be a vocal advocate and an eloquent ambassador for you, to challenge you, to celebrate your accomplishments, to ensure that we are helping to prepare students with the critical thinking and practical skills for the future.”

Dr. Andrew Ledbetter then opened the floor to questions from the audience.

Questions and answers

Dr. Laura Bright of the School of Strategic Communication asked about the fact that students at TCU spend a large amount of money on their education, and some may not think they are getting their money’s worth if the classes are online because they are not in the actual classroom.

Dorsey suggested the idea of “hybrid classes,” partially online and partially in the classroom.

“The goal is to create a citizen that is going to be a leader in the community,” he said.

He said that as a dean he will step out of the faculty’s way and let them try things.

Dr. Julie O’Neil of the School of Strategic Communication then asked about other ways of measuring student’s success when the parents want to know about their child’s future.

“There is a reality that a parent wants to know,” he said. “It is our job to explain to this parent the importance of the sorts of practical skills that the student is going to need in this culture. That is why communication is so fundamental.”

“Get the parents to think of a different metric of their child’s success. There is more to this. We are creating citizen leaders.”

Ledbetter asked, “At what places should we [the faculty] collaborate or not collaborate?”

“You all have your distinct identities, what I would be asking is to give a little time to collaborating with the other units in the college for a brand for the college,” Dorsey said. “I am not asking you to water down who you are, I am asking you to augment who you are.”

Questions of whether Dorsey has had to lobby for space in the past, the role of faculty being in the selection of other positions and collaboration between career services and the college were also asked.

There were about 25 people in attendance for the open forum Monday afternoon.

Dorsey has been a teacher scholar for 24 years and is the Chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Memphis.

He has a Ph.D. in speech communication from Indiana University, a bachelor’s in business administration and a master’s in speech communication from California State University.

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