A Busy Summer for CAS Professors

Posted on: July 16, 2013


While some may think university faculty take a nice long break over the summer, that’s certainly not the case at CAS. While the hallways may be a bit quieter, the teaching, learning and research are taking place in imaginative and challenging new ways.  I could write weekly about the amazing work being accomplished by faculty over the summer, but will settle for providing you with a few examples.

Launching the summer off warmly, faculty members Constantinos Coursaris and Bob Kolt headed to Saudi Arabia just after spring graduation to share their respective areas of expertise with senior-level corporate employees of Saudi Aramco. One of the world’s largest oil companies, Saudi Aramco is engaged in a multi-year training partnership with the college.

Adv 492 Kolt ClassShortly after returning to Michigan, Kolt and his Advertising 492: Public Relations in Sports and Entertainment class headed to Comerica Park for an amazing day of behind the scenes action with Tigers’ executives. They met with sportscaster, Dan Dickerson, the lead radio play-by-play voice of the Detroit Tigers on the Detroit Radio Network, and Jim Price, former Tigers catcher and the team’s current color commentator, as well as a variety of public relations professionals.

Already having led Study Abroad programs this summer in Japan and Korea, Coursaris is now co-leading two programs on behalf of our Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media (TISM) department involving 52 students from Italy and Australia. They are studying “Social Media and Big Data.” Today, they will visit Steelcase in Grand Rapids, on Friday they’re off to TechSmith in Okemos, and next Wednesday they are meeting with General Electric.

Several of our Journalism faculty – Sue Carter, Troy Hale, Howard Bosson, Darcy Greene, Cheryl Pell and Karl Gude – along with colleagues from all five departments within CAS, are co-leading and teaching CAS students across a broad array of countries as part of our growing Study Abroad program. Beyond planning demanding schedules and logistics, faculty ensure CAS students explore their specific areas of interest and expand their understanding of differing cultures and governmental structures. The faculty also open doors to unique opportunities such as behind-the-scene visits to the Vatican and world-class museums – made possible through the professional relationships CAS faculty have with their international colleagues.

TISM faculty, staff and students are also busy on campus hosting six different programs as part of the MSU Media Summer Camps for middle and high school students. The camps include topics such as audio recording, digital cinema, game design, 3D animation and website design.

In between helping with several of the TISM camp offerings, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies Brian Winn and Assistant Professor Casey O’Donnell are thrilled to be launching major new research projects for which they recently received funding from the National Science Foundation. (Stay tuned for more about these exciting research projects in an upcoming blog.)

Speaking of research grants, that’s another way that our faculty spend their time in the summer. Preparing time-intensive proposals, ramping up newly funded research, and actually conducting the research makes for long summer days both on campus and in remote, underserved communities around the world. For example, Communicative Sciences & Disorders department chair Rahul Shrivastav and his research team just received approval last week for a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. In partnership with two other universities, this grant will enable further research on development of a highly precise system for determining voice quality, potentially having a tremendous impact on the accuracy of clinical diagnosis and treatment of voice disorders.

Also reflective of the outstanding caliber of our faculty are the honors and recognitions they receive. Fulbright Scholar Joe Walther, professor with both the Communication department and TISM, was named an International Communication Association (ICA) Fellow and received the ICA’s Steven H. Chafee Career Achievement Award. The selection committee stated that Walther’s research on computer-mediated communication “embodies the spirit” of the award  – “focused, sustained, creative, original research.”

I joined Walther as well as CAS Communication department professors Kami Silk and Sandi Smith at the ICA awards ceremony in London this June. Silk, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, and Smith, also an ICA Fellow, as well as the late Communication department chair Charles Atkin, received the ICA Applied Research Award for their work on “translating emerging science to reduce breast cancer.”

These honors distinguish the CAS Communication department as a clear international leader in communication research. Former CAS faculty and University Distinguished Professors Bradley Greenberg (Emeritus) and Charles Atkin have been honored as ICA Fellows as well, making CAS the only college with four ICA fellows worldwide.

Collectively, all the department chairs and associate deans have joined me this summer in strategic planning meetings to map out major new initiatives for the next five years. Since we are still finalizing the strategic plan, all I can say at this point is how once again I am impressed with the vision and passion these scholars and leaders have for ensuring CAS continues to be at the forefront in preparing the global communicators of tomorrow.



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