The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

EDITORIAL: Next College of Communication dean must commit to independent student media

Photo by Jordan Johnson
Students part of the Marquette Wire working at Late Night Feb. 17.

As the university looks to hire the next College of Communication dean, it must search for a passionate advocate who is committed to securing resources for independent student media.

The Marquette Wire serves all members of the community through its in-depth reporting in the Marquette Tribune, Marquette Journal, Marquette University Television and Marquette Radio. Whether uncovering physical discipline of an adviser on a student, shedding light on campus accessibility issues or analyzing the Golden Eagles win in BIG EAST Tournament semifinalsstudent journalists require support to complete impactful work.

The university is currently conducting its search for the next dean, with acting dean Sarah Feldner currently serving in the role. Provost Kimo Ah Yun told the Marquette Wire the search will take as long as necessary to find the best person for the job. He added the college hopes the new dean can begin July 1.

The College of Communication dean has the ability to promote programs, organizations, courses and other initiatives to top university administrators and the broader community. Often acting as a spokesperson for students, staff and faculty in the college, the dean sets the tone for the college’s priorities.

Associate professor and chair of digital media and performing arts Stephen Hudson-Mairet, who is chairing the search committee for the new dean of the College of Communication, said the person chosen  would need to advocate for the college and raise its visibility to local, national and industry members, such as “through a fundraising acumen.”

“We would like to work with a new dean who can help us continue the efforts to grow and strengthen the diversity of our faculty, staff and student body,” Hudson-Mairet said. “We would like someone who understands how to support and encourage faculty research and creative work.”

It is essential that the permanent dean exhibits genuine care and interest in the objectives of student media on campus.

The Marquette Wire’s coverage provides an independent check on Marquette University as an institution, its leaders and others in the broader community. Without accountability, officials at the university could largely operate unchecked, which can cause harm to any system or environment.

The university recently announced that it will employ a cost management review process to counter demographic challenges facing higher education. These challenges include a 15 to 25% decrease in college-age students by 2026, according to the book “Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education” by Nathan Growe, which University President Michael Lovell previously referenced. In September 2019, the university cut 2.5% of its employees. That same month, Ah Yun held a meeting with College of Education faculty and staff to discuss the potential downsizing of the college.

With cost-saving measures undoubtedly ahead, the next College of Communication dean must work to defend against cuts to the student media budget and to support the organization in ensuring that it has lasting funds.

The stories produced by student journalists spark dialogue, generate ideas and educate readers, listeners and viewers. The work aims to share perspectives from overlooked and underserved community members. Without sustained resources, the Marquette Wire would lose the ability to hire talented journalists to adequately represent all campus voices.

Maintaining the current staffing of the Marquette Wire is crucial to the quality of work produced.

Not only must the dean serve as an advocate for student media, but they must also have the ability to serve as an active observer and listener for all students. A dean must be personable, striving to relate to student experiences in an effort to improve them.

Whoever is selected for this position must be present when engaging with Marquette Wire staff members in order to develop a deeper understanding of the organization’s ethics, goals and coverage. With more knowledge comes a stronger ability to advocate for the needs of students.

The next dean must also acknowledge the importance of the Wire’s independence in order to best serve the Marquette community. While personability is valued, the dean must draw a line between themselves and student journalists. The dean should not expect the Wire to align with the university or college’s goals or desired appearance.

The relationship between the Wire and the dean will directly impact how the Wire reports for the community. The dean must advocate for free press and resources to university administration in order for the Wire to remain objective and uphold journalistic integrity and standards.

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