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President’s Corner
Tony DeMars, BEA President

Well, here we are, wrapping up the semester and planning for the holidays and a new year. But there are also important things going on with BEA right now. In this President’s Corner, I once again highlight and thank some of our important BEA members, but I’m also giving you good news about saving money, while asking you to consider donating to an important new BEA grant program.

The saving money part is about renewing your BEA membership now and getting the extra benefit this year of FREE attendance for BEA Virtual Vegas 2021. We’re all ready, I’m sure, to get back to normal, but the uncertainty of things means travel and travel budgets are still difficult for many of you. But, just as we’ve done since our April 2020 Virtual Vegas, our BEA Pop-Ups and our fall virtual On Location, we’ll have a great BEA Virtual Vegas 2021, missing only the face-to-face interactions (and a bit of gambling for some of you!). Institutional members will also be able to incorporate the conference and hands-on workshops into their spring curriculum by inviting students to participate.  Perhaps that saved money, or at least some of it, can go to support our new BEA initiative.

Many of you will remember the NAB Research Grant and how important it was to our members. NAB discontinued their grant program about 10 years ago, but BEA member and past-president Augie Grant has been working over the past few years to create a new program patterned after it. The BEA Board recently approved creation of the BEA Research Grant. Additionally, Augie has secured a $100,000 pledge to jump start the grants by matching the first $50,000 we raise on a 2:1 basis, and the BEA Board approved matching up to $50,000 of donations with money from our long-term reserves. So any (tax deductible!) donation will be quadrupled. For example, a $100 donation will add $400 to the grant endowment. If every member can give a little something (and a few can give some big somethings), we hope that by next fall, we will reach our $200,000 goal and we will take our first BEA Research grant applications. All of the members of the Board of Directors have already pledged gifts to support the grant, and I’m encouraging every BEA member to pitch in a little to make this happen. Please click on the BEA Research Grant link and give what you can.

On to highlighting a few more BEA members, as the BEA Scholarship Committee said good-bye to a long-time committee member this fall when she retired from James Madison University after 32 years.  Marilou Johnson was recruited to join this committee 27 years ago by Peter Orlik and we thank her for many years of commitment and service. Marilou recalled years when the committee reviewed as many as 150 scholarship applications.  She says that she was always impressed with the significant accomplishments of students from across the country and the many leadership opportunities they had in their broadcasting programs.  “This is one of the most meaningful service commitments I had during my career,” Johnson said.  In addition, she counts 12 years of service as a BEA Festival reviewer for at least one of the following BEA competitions: Faculty Scriptwriting, Student Scriptwriting, the News Division and the Research Division Paper Competitions.  She encourages faculty who want to add national service to their CVs to look no further than the BEA interest division Festival competitions as a place to become involved.

Dr. Johnson joined the faculty of what is now the JMU School of Media Arts and Design in 1988, teaching television production, broadcast journalism and scriptwriting.  She received two national awards from the Broadcast Education Association for educational video productions and a first place debut paper award in the History Division.

Her career at JMU included 19 years in administration including an eleven-year focus on the arts when she served as Interim Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts for four years and then seven years as Associate Dean.  In 2014-15, she served as Director of the School of Media Arts and Design. Following that year she was named JMU’s Vice Provost for Academic Development where she worked with a variety of programs focused on students and faculty including the Center for Faculty Innovation, the Office of Cross Disciplinary Studies and Diversity Engagement, the Learning Centers, the Office of the Registrar, Academic Policy and Curriculum Development, Academic Program Review, Academic Student Services, the Honor Council and the Furious Flower Poetry Center.  Her title was changed in 2019 and she retired as Vice Provost for Faculty and Curriculum.

Dr. Johnson received the Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Arts from James Madison University, the Master of Mass Communication degree from Arkansas State University and the Ph.D. in Communications from The University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

A primary reason for highlighting some of our BEA members in the newsletter is to allow us to recognize significant volunteer contribution to our organization, and Steve Perry certainly fits that category based on his work in a variety of roles, including current service with the Publications Committee. Dr. Stephen Perry has been a professor of Communication since 1995 after earning his Ph.D. from the University of Alabama. He was a Fulbright Scholar to the University of Mauritius, served as editor-in-chief of Mass Communication and Society for six years, chaired the History Division of BEA, and currently serves as the Publication Committee Chair for BEA.

Perry is currently serving in his third year as the Interim Dean of the Robertson School of Government at Regent University while still maintaining a faculty presence in communication. He previously directed the graduate programs in Communication and Journalism and served as the Associate Dean of the School of Communication and the Arts, also at Regent.  He has served on faculty at Illinois State University and at Stillman College. He teaches courses in the Ph.D. program at Regent including several research methods courses, “Communication in a Global Environment,” and “Academic Writing for Publication.”

His latest book focused on division in America as shown through communication about the national anthem kneeling controversy. He considers himself a communication generalist, but his main research currently is on the history of radio, ­­peace journalism, and re-thinking the use of journalistic sources. He has been honored with the faculty excellence award for scholarship at Regent University and the top published article of 2017 in JRAM. He has edited or authored four books, and has written over 40 journal articles and book chapters along with 30 other scholarly essays. He currently manages and contributes to daily social media products for the Robertson School of Government.

Perry has been married to Rev. Kay Lynn Perry for 31 years, and has three adult children, a cat, and two aquatic turtles. He enjoys tennis, chess, and leading worship music. He lives in Virginia Beach, VA.

Thanks to each of these BEA members for your continued service to academia and BEA. Best wishes to you and your family as we look to the new year as an opportunity to make our lives and our world better, and, as always, please email me and help identify a BEA member who deserves recognition in an upcoming President’s Corner.  De brevitate vitae carpe diem.