Hicks selected to attend prestigious academy

With the constant growth and converging of mass media outlets and the advent of even newer and more interactive media-based technologies, being a leader in today’s field of mass communications and journalism can be a particularly challenging task.

Gary Hicks, department chair and associate professor of mass communications, is one of 15 mass communications professionals and scholars attending the Scripps Howard Leadership Academy in June.

Gary Hicks, department chair and associate professor of mass communications, is one of fifteen “select, up-and-coming” mass communications professionals and scholars who the Scripps Howard Foundation has invited to exchange leadership insights and strategies related to this demanding field at their fifth annual Scripps Howard Leadership Academy.

“The Scripps Howard Foundation is associated with Scripps Howard Newspapers – one of the largest chains of newspapers and media outlets in the world. Very often, these news organizations will be interested in the education of future industry professionals,” explained Hicks. “The Scripps Howard Foundation particularly targets those in administrative positions. So, it’s a way to take people who either are administrators or who aspire to be administrators within a journalism program or mass communications/media studies program and teach them the best ways to lead these types of departments and schools.”

In June, Hicks will travel to the Manship School of Mass Communications at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge to attend the weeklong leadership academy – an opportunity completely funded by the Scripps Howard Foundation.

The professionals and scholars selected to attend the prestigious academy are chosen through a competitive process. Every year the foundation selects between 12 and 15 “experienced university leaders,” according to the Louisiana State University Web Site, to share “challenges and rewards of leading an academic program in journalism and mass communication.”

Hicks, who has been at SIUE for almost 13 years and has chaired the Department of Mass Communications for the past two years, is looking forward to receiving new insight about his changing field.

“I’ve been chair of the department [of mass communications] for two years now so I think I have a fairly good grasp, at this stage of media education, on how to lead the department.” said Hicks. “But, every department, like ours around the world, is struggling with ‘how do we embrace convergent media?’ and ‘how do we make sure that our students are as prepared as possible for an industry that we’re not exactly sure what it’s going to be by the time they graduate?’”

According to Hicks, receiving ideas and guidance from his academic counterparts as well as industry professionals from various news organizations will not only benefit the mass communications department but also the College of Arts and Sciences and SIUE as a whole.

“Over the last few years, the Department of Mass Communications has taken a much larger role in the overall life of the College of Arts and Sciences,” said Hicks. “We have a dean who is extraordinarily supportive of our efforts for publicizing the great things that the college is doing. We see that in ‘This Week in CAS.’  We see that in ‘Segue’ and now a new newspaper column that the dean has coming out. Those are all projects that have involved the Department of Mass Communications and specifically me as the leader of the department. So, I think that being more in tune with how the professionals in the industry see my role will benefit not only the department but also the college and the university as a whole.”

According Louisiana State University’s Web site, past participants of the Scripps Howard Leadership Academy include the founding dean of the School of Communication at Loyola University Chicago, the dean at Marquette University’s College of Communication and the dean of Boston University’s College of Communication.

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