Vic Costello, May 2021
At some point in the past two weeks, I received a virtual passing of the baton and a hearty “tag, you’re it!” from outgoing president Tony DeMars. After serving as BEA President for two years, Tony has earned relief from the helm and appears ready to move on to other things—one of which (drum roll please!)—is becoming the next editor of the Journal of Radio and Media (JRAM). Congratulations Tony and thank you from your BEA friends and colleagues for the excellent job you did leading us through such challenging times.
In my first President’s corner, I want to highlight a few of the shared plans and initiatives the Board envisions for the year ahead.
BEA Convention Spotlight: From “Facing” to “Embracing” the Future
In hindsight, the convention spotlight for BEA2021 Facing the Future was a particularly apt theme, as collectively, our association and the institutions and industries we represent as media educators, found ourselves facing a myriad of unexpected challenges and disruptions caused by the worldwide pandemic. With little warning, many of us found ourselves thrown into unfamiliar waters, swimming upstream against a relentless tide of personal and work-related trials. The phrase new normal became cliché as we turned on a dime from physical to virtual teaching modalities and adapted to a host of new technologies for interacting with students and colleagues. Terms such as remote, synchronous, and asynchronous learning, Hybrid and HyFlex course design, and pop-ups entered our common lexicon and experience—as did the ever-persistent realities of Zoom fatigue. Ugh! We learned together the importance of staying visually engaged (cameras on!), knowing when to turn our microphone on and off, paying attention to the chat box, and creating stunning virtual backdrops of real physical places we longed to be. We mastered the art of pivoting as we faced a future characterized by constant change and shrouded in uncertainty.
While parts of the world, sadly, are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, others are experiencing some long-awaited relief and a glimmer of hope that the next and better iteration of the new normal is on the horizon. Against this mixed backdrop of cautious optimism, BEA is moving forward with plans to reboot in-person meetings, but in a hybrid format that incorporates many of the positive take-aways from 2020—the abundance of new knowledge and lessons learned that can be applied strategically in shaping our future. Fittingly, the spotlight theme for BEA2022 is Embracing the Future, which connotes a sense of welcoming and cherishing new ways of doing, thinking, and interacting—to complement and supplement our programing with virtual elements where it makes sense to do so without permanently supplanting physical human interaction as our universities and professional associations open back up.
BEA On-Location 2021 and the BEA2022 Annual Convention
BEA has committed to returning to Las Vegas this fall for an in-person 2021 On-Location “Super-Regional” Conference to be co-located with the NAB Show and the RAB and NAB Radio Show, October 10-12. Unlike past conventions in Vegas, this will be a hybrid event featuring a virtual conference component October 7-8. Likewise, after hosting two entirely virtual conventions in 2019 and 2020, we plan to return to Vegas in April 2022 for a full-blown BEA convention and NAB Show. While we look forward to the return to a physical convention, we embrace the ongoing role that virtual meetings and interaction can, and will play, in our programming mix—online gatherings such as virtual pop-up sessions, association business and committee meetings, and district gatherings that can, in the virtual world, occur more often than once a year.
BEA Board Elections
Following a one-year pause on leadership transitions, BEA Board elections will return this fall for the odd-numbered geographic and constituency districts. These elections will take place in September with open seats available in Districts 1, 3, 5, and 7, where three of the representatives from these districts will be concluding their second and final terms of service. For those of you looking to deepen your involvement in BEA leadership, I hope you will consider putting your name forward when the call for nominations is posted later this summer.
BEA Strategic Initiatives
Each year the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors holds a strategic planning retreat to map out plans and initiatives for the coming year. To wrap things up, I’ll leave you with a brief description of three initiatives that will garner special attention in the year to come.
Diversity and Inclusion
BEA is committed to maintaining the positive momentum established by the Diversity & Inclusion Special Initiatives Task force under the leadership of our Faculty Fellow for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. George Daniels. In recent months, BEA Board members and representatives participated in ten outreach meetings with faculty administrators from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In addition, the task force heard presentations from two emerging Hispanic Serving Institutions and initiated conversations with our first tribal college. At the spring Board meeting last week, a plan was approved to expand BEA’s commitment to provide free institutional membership not only to HBCUs, but to all qualified minority-serving institutions (via a fee waiver application).
BEA Student Programs
At the fall Board meeting, we approved creation of a third faculty fellow position. The Faculty Fellow for Student Programs will be charged with expanding BEA Clubs and enhancing programming and support for BEA Clubs as well as for all student members of BEA. A search for this position recently concluded and we hope to announce the appointment soon.
Last year, the scope of District 7 was expanded to include all two-year colleges and high schools in the U.S. While the primary focus of BEA will always be on supporting faculty and students working in college and university broadcasting and media programs, we are actively exploring ways for expanding BEA’s outreach to high school faculty and students. A special task force will be established to explore opportunities for increasing scholastic membership and the creation of a BEA sponsored high school media festival that would function separately from the BEA Festival of Media Arts.
I invite you to join the quest of Embracing the Future with us in 2021-22. Great things are being planned and envisioned for the year ahead that cannot be fully realized without your continued support and involvement as an active member, contributor, and leader of BEA.