Fritz Messere, interim dean of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts at SUNY-Oswego, said he will encourage students to take more liberal arts courses in the Park School of Communications if chosen as dean.
Messere, the third Park School dean candidate, made four presentations March 11 at Ithaca College.
On Tuesday morning he met with Park staff and then later with faculty. A question-and-answer session for students followed. In his final presentation of the day, he held an open session about the future of communication education and opened the floor for questions.
“I always like to sell the benefits of any product,” he said. “The Park School has a long history in communication, a tremendous faculty, excellent student media and after-graduation opportunities.”
Messere received his bachelor’s degree in English and his master’s in communication from SUNY-Oswego. He served as a visiting professor at Cornell University from 2001 to 2002 and at Ithaca College from 1996 to 1997. Prior to becoming the interim dean at SUNY-Oswego, he was the department chair of the communication studies department.
At the faculty session, Messere stressed that he needed to learn more about the Park School before making any drastic changes.
“I work best as a colleague rather than a supervisor,” he said. “My general style is to build consensus rather than dealing with a hierarchical level of importance.”
Messere said administrators need to help faculty reach their goals.
“I don’t solve problems,” he said. “I bring people together. It makes sense to have discussions with all areas to see if they coalesce.”
Messere also spoke about the strong alumni network of the Park School and the opportunities for students to get internships and jobs from these relationships.
“Alumni need to feel comfortable with the new dean because they are the feeders for the internship program and hiring graduates,” he said.
In the student session, he emphasized how the faculty and the dean need to be accessible to students.
“Students need to feel comfortable to share ideas, get feedback and criticism,” he said.
Fewer than 10 students attended each dean candidate session, but Barbara Terrell, a member of the search committee, said she was not concerned.
“We really didn’t talk about [student involvement] as far as it being negative or anything because we have a student on the committee and that’s important,” she said. “The continuity of the same ones attending all three presentations we thought was really good, and they did fill out all the forms.”
To educate students, Messere said he is a believer in liberal arts education. He is also interested in creating synergistic productions with the music school and the theater department.
“We have a tremendous music school, and I would like to see a stronger relationship between the two,” he said. “We have the ability to create a show like ‘Glee.’”
Cathy Michael, communications librarian, said she was interested in Messere’s opinion on copyright policy.
“I asked him a question about telecommunications and policy because that seemed to be his strength,” she said. “Copyright is naturally fussy, and it’s kind of a push and pull of sides. He did a good job of expressing that phenomenon.”
In his presentation on the future of communication education, Messere stressed the importance of a new communication paradigm — participatory culture. He identified Facebook and YouTube as important parts of college culture and spoke about bringing game design and social-networking courses to campus.
“We need to teach how to produce media, but also its meaning,” he said. “We need to encompass the latest technologies to be used.”
Messere explained his own vision of the Park School for the attendees.
“[The Park School] is poised for real greatness and needs a push to get there,” he said. “It needs to get its name out there more, like students working on projects with professors like independent study.”
Phil Wacker-Hoeflin, cinema production support engineer in technical operations, is a member of the dean search committee and attended Messere’s last session. He said all three candidates presented detailed visions of the future of communications.
“All three are able to see the essence of the problem,” he said. “They just don’t describe the appearance of the problem. They are able to identify something at the core of it and are using that analysis to make what they see as a future possibility.”