California State University, Sacramento professor Kimo Ah Yun was appointed as the new dean of the College of Communication Jan. 7 and will start July 1.
Ah Yun sat down with the Marquette Wire to share thoughts and goals about his new position.
Marquette Wire: What will you bring to Marquette from your higher education experience in California?
Kimo Ah Yun: “I think one of the benefits of bringing someone in from the outside is you have entirely different systems and ways of doing things. I bring some budgeting experience, especially. I come from a large public institution which requires us to receive a lot of our funding from the state, so there’s not a lot of fundraising that goes on. What it does require you to be is really good about resources that you have.
The larger thing, and this is less so about being from the west coast, is I was the director of our center for teaching and learning, which focuses on the best way to provide a curriculum so students can maximize their learning. As a result, I’ve been to a lot of national conferences, I’ve done some publishing in that area and so I look forward to being able to engage the faculty in conversations to talk about the ways they’re doing their curriculum now and ways we might change the curriculum in ways that are consistent with values of Marquette but also improves the student experience.”
MW: Will you incorporate your academic areas of expertise and teaching philosophy into this administrative position?
KAY: “One of the opportunities I think the college has is to look at the creation of interdisciplinary programs. The benefit of me having those different areas (of expertise) is I’m familiar with the type of curriculum that might be created to help students take classes in multiple areas. There’s a lot of good research that exists outside the College of Communication that would blend well with a person who wants to go into a field that’s connected to a secondary area.”
MW: We previously reported that in 2014, 20 percent of Marquette College of Communication graduates were unemployed. Did you face a similar challenge while working with communication students in California?
KAY: “One of the challenges about a communication degree is it depends on what area. There are some areas where they’re not training you for a particular career path. Because of that, some students don’t know what area they’re going to get into when they graduate. But what I also say is one of the things we know about communication graduates is that, once they do get into a career area, they end up being successful because they have all the skills they need to become a leader in that community – writing, public speaking, critical thinking – and they know how to run meetings and organize their thoughts. That allows them to excel.
It’s very important for students to be able to do internships, and I would like to see the college require internships for all of (its) students. I actually would prefer for people to have two internships – one at a public organization and one at a private organization. Having internships at different levels does multiple things – one, it gives (students) references they can use for jobs after graduation; second, it gives them an understanding about whether or not this is the career area they want to be in and third, it gives them understanding of what it’s like to be in a professional environment on a regular basis.
I look forward to having conversations with faculty to see whether or not we can make that happen. One of the things it would require is expanding the base of possible outlets for people to do internships. It’s also about making sure (students) understand the value (of internships) and pushing them to take those opportunities.”
MW: Have you started forming goals or noting things you want to tackle first in this position?
KAY: “My intention is to spend the spring semester traveling out to the university to begin meeting with people to be able to understand the best new direction for the college. I think one of the most important things that needs to happen is there needs to be some updating of the strategic plan for the college. That’s going to require a lot of conversation with all of the affected members – get the faculty, staff and students to begin talking about what the college wants to do and what its priorities are, then to develop a plan and timeline to determine how we achieve those priorities.
The important thing eventually is setting forth the vision, understanding when you want to get there, understanding what exists when you know you’ve reached that place, and then it’s about aligning all of the resources to support whatever you find to be most important.
I think some (goals) would be ways to increase the number of interdisciplinary programs, ways to increase the number of internships and ways where we can talk about the best organizational system for the college.
I’d also like to find ways where we can get greater student participation in research. I think it’s very important that the college begin thinking about ways to have an annual showcase where students are showcasing the work they’re doing. We might bring family members and alumni back to campus to really show off what our students are doing. I’d like all of the students to have an experience like that. It’d be nice if all of the departments were doing that on the same day.”
MW: Is there a final comment you’d like to add?
KAY: I’m very excited to be a part of the Marquette team. I like the values of the university and the history of the college. I really enjoyed the faculty I’ve met, and I think they’re eager to begin thinking about how they move the college in new directions, and I’m excited to be part of that process.”