Students wake up to talk with deans of communication

Mary Ellen Knewtson

Three deans of the college stood near a long table with red cups and ping pong balls in the lobby of the communication school on Wednesday.

Although it might have looked like an impromptu game of beer pong, the three deans were actually playing early-morning juice pong as part of Communication Council’s biannual “Donuts with the Deans” event.

The council members organized the breakfast to bridge the gap between students and faculty members, said council member Micaela Neumann, a communication studies sophomore.

“This is an opportunity for students to interact with deans about any concerns they have about their educations,” Neumann said.

She said the idea was to give students a chance to meet their deans in a casual environment. Several dozen students stopped by the table to chat and pick up free breakfast.

Dean Roderick Hart, who attended the event, said he wanted students to see that he and the college’s associate deans were approachable and available to talk.

“This gives me a sense of what excites [students] and what worries them,” Hart said.

Hart talked about the field of communication as it relates to economic and political trends.

“Communication students are liberal arts majors who are profoundly impatient,” Hart said. “Our students are broadly educated, but there’s an implication to apply the knowledge.”

Hart said an ideal communication student should be thoughtful, articulate and curious. He encouraged students not to get too discouraged by the current scarcity of jobs.

“These are hard times financially,” he said. “Keep in mind how quickly cycles change. That’s true in politics and in economics, as well. My advice would be to keep a historical view even though we live in the present.”

Hart said the landslide Republican victory in Tuesday’s midterm election is episodic, and, in its haste to cover the unusual, the media has overblown the influence of the Tea Party. He said he continues to encourage his students to vote in every election, even if for no other reason than pure self interest.

“If you don’t vote, I get two votes,” Hart said. “If I’m not there to make the case for aging white males, who else will be?”

Students in attendance expressed their gratitude both for the free food and for a chance to make contact with the leaders of their college.

Advertising graduate student Josh Glick said he would prefer a casual setting to a formal office visit when finding out more about the deans.