I started advising the student newspaper at Capital University, a small, private liberals school in Columbus, Ohio, in 1995. College Media Advisers saved my sanity.
My appointment was as a full-time renewable-term instructor in an English Department full of literary types who had no idea how to relate to me. My lowly master of arts in journalism from Marshall University was not a proper pedigree for some PhDs I worked with. However, the students did not care what my background was. They didn’t have anyone on campus to help them with their weekly, and I was lucky they welcomed me. Too lucky.
Wednesday night productions turned into a marathon that lasted until 3 or 4 a.m. on Thursdays. They had me getting my hands dirty with them in ways I would never do now. Then, a flier for a CMA convention in Washington, D.C. showed up in my campus mailbox.
I had been a high school journalism teacher and adviser, so I thought I knew what I was doing at the collegiate level. Well, CMA showed me I didn’t.
I took four students to that convention in fall 1995. We all learned better ways to work, and I started learning how to better lead and train my students.
After a couple years of absorbing what CMA gave me, I offered to present a session. Despite my loathing of public speaking, I muddled through. Soon, I was leading sessions. Then, I was chair of the new member committee for many years.
When I came up for tenure in 2003, my CMA friends supplied letters and encouragement. CMA helped me through the rapid and immense change in the media landscape.
I can’t believe I’m coming up on 20 years with the College Media Association. I have learned more than being an adviser. Teaching tips have helped me with my courses in news writing, editing, design, ethics, media law and even freshman composition. I learned to fight not only for my students’ expression but also for release time to be an adviser. I have learned how to gain respect of what my students and I do at my institution.
Now, why do I want to step into the hornets’ nest of the board? I have ideas I think will promote stability and transparency to the organization.
As I have said to many people, and on the listserv, higher education is in a dangerous position. Overall declining enrollment, budget cuts, and accountability demands will make it harder for us to do our jobs—if we can keep our jobs. Consequently, CMA must maintain its strength and visibility as the organization for college media professionals who work directly with students.
1. Transparency. Unless the board deals with contracts, personnel issues or other proprietary matters, meetings must be open. Can we stream meetings? Meeting minutes should be distributed on the listserv within 48 hours of the meeting. Quarterly financial statements should be available as well. Advisory Council and general membership meetings at conventions should not be scheduled opposite any sessions, critiques, tours, etc. and be streamed if possible. Minutes of those meetings should be available within 48 hours. Any email voting should be noted at least one week in advance of the vote unless an emergency occurs.
2. Financial health. We may be entering into a period of shrinking revenue. Tough decisions many need to be made. Do we need two conventions a year? Do we go to New York every year? Do we go to a regional spring model like SPJ? Do we increase dues or award fees? What about students? How do we create revenue to thrive but not seem like a for-profit organization? Let’s have a membership-wide brainstorming session.
3. Affiliates. It would be great to get the band back together, but is it possible for ACP and/or CBI to do this? What does the convention booking look like for those organizations in 2016, 2017? I am open to listening and negotiating. We are stronger if we work together. However, in any negotiation, each side must get something. It never should be a zero-sum game.
4. Convention committees. The present structure of a super committee for convention planning is not conducive to promoting leadership for CMA or helping members in advancement at their schools. The old system of more than 30 committees was too unwieldy. However, it did provide opportunities for members to get “middle management” experience at CMA leadership. It did give members a chance to include service to their profession on their annual reviews/reports. Here is my rough idea:
1. Adviser Advocacy
2. Adviser Professional Development
3. Adviser Research
4. New Adviser
7. Business—includes advertising, promotion, social media, and public relations
9. Entertainment—includes literary magazines, review writing, film making, gaming writing and creation, music video productions, and celebrity interest
11. News—print and web
12. Broadcast—web, cable, etc.
14. Private and/or small schools
15. Two-year schools
(*Not counting awards, elections and Hall of Fame committees)
Four adviser committees keep the interest on advisers, which I think must be maintained as our core mission. The newsperson in me doesn’t care for an entertainment committee, but the pragmatist in me screams face reality—our students have varied interests.
I am the right person for the board at this time. My professional and personal lives are in order without major stresses, so I am ready to work. I want honesty and openness, so I want straightforward talk. I want this organization to survive, and I will do whatever it takes to do so. You should vote for me for vice president not because I have been around since the ‘90s, but because I will listen and work for CMA.
QUESTIONS FROM THE MEMBERSHIP
What is your vision for CMA?
CMA must survive and thrive in this gloomy climate of higher education downsizing. It must maintain its mission of being an advocate for the support and education of college media professionals and their students. No other organization is like CMA. We are unique. CMA has the responsibility to provide training and advocacy, but we must also be trustworthy with our money.
My vision is for CMA to be the central home for all the needs for college media professionals and their students, and for CMA to have healthy relationships with all groups needed for college media.
What are your specific goals that will ensure that vision is completed?
- Strong financial health. Get numbers and project the best and worst case scenarios for the next few years.
- Open negotiations with ACP and CBI.
- Re-invigorate our liaison system with other groups (SPJ, CNBAM, AEJMC, PRSA, etc.)
Could you provide details about how you are going to accomplish your goals?
- Obviously read the financial reports and have the board estimate incoming income and probably loss. Poll membership for ideas for suggestions for improving our finances.
- Begin informal discussions with leaders of ACP and CBI.
- Ask for member volunteers who belong to other organizations to become liaisons and provide us with contacts who we could assist and those who could assist us.
Will you mimic other journalism organizations and conspicuously post both meeting agendas and minutes?
Yes, we need greater transparency unless dealing with personnel or proprietary information. If we, as journalists, demand accountability from other institutions, aren’t we being a little hypocritical if we don’t let the sun shine in?
Many members are willing to trust the board to do its work and will not care to read the sausage recipe; however, a great many members enjoy reading recipes. I know I do.
Will you announce bylaw votes before asking the membership to vote on them?
Yes. Unless it’s an emergency the membership should have at last two weeks to discuss them.
What else will you do to ensure that the CMA Board becomes more transparent to its members?
- Stream board meetings if possible.
- Post to website and send to listserv within 48 hours meeting minutes.
- Send quarterly financial statements to membership.
Will you vote to partner with ACP again for a fall convention even if it means returning to the previous contract terms?
I have read the previous contract terms. I see no problem with the contract. We shared equal risk with ACP and income with ACP. That's equal. This relationship worked well for many years.
Why or Why not?
I think the contract was fair. You do not go into a negotiation thinking it will be a zero-sum game and try to bluff your partner into doing your bidding. In a successful negotiation each party gets something of value. Being a dictator is counterproductive to successful cooperation. College media is not a poker game.
What's your philosophy on the future of CMA: Compete with other organizations or partner with them?
College media is a specialized area. It’s not like we have tens of thousands of engineering or English professors and students to assist.
With the declining population of college-age students and universities fighting for their financial survival, we have a perfect storm coming. Fewer students + tight budgets = membership and travel decline.
All organizations must realize we have to stop re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic and work together for everyone to survive.
If you want to partner with other organizations, which organizations would you want to partner with?
First, we must work toward partnering with CBI and ACP. After that we will see what the college media landscape looks like for further work.
Please add anything else you think can help our members know you and your leadership style.
First I look at all the angles of an issue. I have discussions with the parties involved. I listen. I look for consensus. People need to be heard and thought valued. You can’t please everyone, but you must make hard decisions sometimes. I know how to herd cats. I was chair for three years of my department at Capital University. Even if a decision doesn’t go the way many people want, those people have to know their voices have been heard. If voices are not heard, morale plummets. Morale plummets, and you have an organization mired in apathy. That will not happen with CMA.