After class last week, I went through the usual routine. Turned off the A/V projector. Grabbed my dry-erase markers, textbook and file folders and zipped ’em into my shoulder bag. Turned off the lights and shut the door.
Wistfully, I headed off to the parking lot. I had just given the final exam in my Sports and the Media class, and it would be the last time I would go through this routine.
After three years of teaching at Washington State University Vancouver, it was time to close the book (literally) and look forward to what comes next.
I’ve been offered a one-year, full-time faculty position at Portland State University for the 2018-19 academic year. In order to accept the job, I had to say no to further employment at WSUV.
While I’m excited to step into an expanded role at Portland State, I regret that it comes at the price of giving up the good thing I had going at WSUV. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the mix of students and small-college feel of this public university in southwest Washington, where many, like myself, are first-generation college students.
What does all this mean?
First, it means I can take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Dr. Narayanan Iyer, director of the Integrated Strategic Communication program at WSUV, for hiring me as an adjunct instructor in January 2017. Known affectionately to students and staff as Nanu, he gave me the chance to teach three different courses over my time there, stretching across the spring, summer and fall semesters.
Read “Cougartown” for a look back at my first semester at WSUV
I had no idea what Integrated Strategic Communications meant when I began. But I now know it includes a broad-based curriculum that touches on public relations, advertising, multimedia content creation, social media and digital content management, and a whiff of journalism.
I wasn’t there to teach journalism, per se. But through my Sports and the Media class and others that I taught — Media Ethics and Reporting Across Platforms — I sought to introduce students to the multimedia reporting skills and industry challenges facing digital-era journalists.
Second, I can say “thank you” to a host of professionals who gave generously of their time and expertise. Students heard directly from these guest speakers about the skills and attributes it takes to be a front-line journalist; about the professional relationships one must build with sources, including athletes and coaches; and about the ethical quandaries they encounter almost daily in the course of doing their jobs.
These talented men and women opened students’ eyes to the nasty trolling one puts up with on social media, most frequently aimed at women journalists. And in a couple of cases, speakers talked about the mental health issues that confront athletes, as well as what it feels like to be the subject of media coverage.
Here’s a heartfelt “thank you” to all who spoke to my students over these past three years: Lindsay Schnell, Jamie Goldberg. Tom Goldman, Casey Holdahl, Rich Burk, Chris Metz, Tyson Alger, Gina Mizell, Taylor Ricci, Nathan Braaten, Brenda Tracy, Mark Mohammadpour, Dianne Danowski-Smith, Chris Broderick, Beth Nakamura, Stephanie Yao-Long, Lillian Mongeau, Steve Woodward, Katy Sword, David Lippoff, Will Ulbricht, Kate Lesniak, Anna Griffin and Kyle Iboshi.
A special thanks goes out to Evelyn Smith, who was the only and one teaching assistant I had. She was a rock star during the Media and Society class I taught last fall, and graduated in December.
So what’s next?
Next school year, I’ll be teaching two courses each during the fall, winter and spring quarters at Portland State, while continuing to coordinate the academic internship program in the Department of Communication.
I’ll begin in September with Media Literacy, my bread-and-butter course, and Media Ethics — two very timely and essential topics.
Before then, I’ll head off to the U.K. this summer to teach Media Literacy in London. It will be my second time leading this study-abroad course through Portland State, and I’m looking forward to having 10 students this time, up from 6 last year.
It’s a two-week course that runs July 8-22. This time, Lori will join me at the tail end of the program and we’ll enjoy being tourists for a few days.
It’s been a great ride, Vancouver. I look forward to more of the same, Portland.