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Preparing for the AEJMC Conference

August 4, 2015

Michael Bugeja, director,
Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication,
Iowa State University of Science and Technology

You know the seasons in academe by the semester, fall and spring. But the real start of the academic year begins in summer in the first weeks of August when the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication holds its annual convention, this year in San Francisco.

This is my 36th year in higher education. I probably have missed a half-dozen conventions during that time. Each year I look forward to the event not only to learn the latest research in the discipline or view the new books in the convention center but also to support my faculty and meet former colleagues and old friends.

When I was a professor at Oklahoma State and Ohio University, it seemed I had more time to socialize or take tours in the host city. As an administrator, however, my main task is assembling a schedule so that I get the chance to view faculty presentations and make business contacts. For instance, on Friday, I will be meeting with my new book editor. Throughout the week, I will have coffee or meals with former colleagues or leaders in media ethics, magazine, history and news divisions (to which I belong or have belonged).

This year, because of budgetary concerns, we will not be searching for new candidates for positions at the Greenlee School. That is my favorite activity, and I will miss it. The AEJMC convention provides a platform for chairs and directors to meet the most talented, emerging professionals and researchers in journalism and mass communication. In years when we made hires, search committee members and I would return with a notebook of resumes and vitas to share with the faculty and staff.

And then there is the social. Ours is scheduled on Friday, Aug. 7, from 6:45-8:45 p.m. Iowa State shares the venue with Ohio University, Louisiana State University, and the Scripps Leadership Academy. This is a great place to make new friends and contacts, and usually I stop by other socials to say hello to friends and acquaintances at other institutions. Networking is part of every administrator’s job.

The main difference in attending the AEJMC conference as an administrator rather than as a professor is a heightened presence as ambassador for your program. As a chair, director or dean, you also can give back to AEJMC by sponsoring some of its activities and advertising in its convention publications.

Personally I do my best in every interaction to be professional and collegial, especially when criticized during a presentation or panel discussion. You can always agree to disagree and then move on rather than take criticism personally. After all, criticism is part of the convention process and experience. Make a point to learn from it.

May all reading this post enjoy and benefit from the AEJMC convention in San Francisco!


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