Greetings, reader! Please allow me to take a few moments of your time to introduce myself and explain why I am an excellent candidate to serve as 2018 BEA Convention Program Chair. I will offer some biographical information that includes my career path, and then move on to addressing specifics about how I fit the responsibilities of Program Chair. Finally, I will wrap up with some thoughts on what the 2018 Convention might be like.
I have been attending BEA regularly since 2006, my first year as a fully-‐credentialed academic after completing my PhD in Communication (Media Studies) at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to earning my PhD, I completed a Masters Degree in Communication and Information Systems while working as Station Coordinator for RMU-‐TV at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh PA. My career in local television spanned most of the decade before that, starting as production technician, moving through producer/director, and finishing as Operations Manager at WTOV-‐TV in Steubenville, Ohio, department head for the Program, Promotion, and Production departments. I am currently an Associate Professor of Broadcasting and Chair of the School of Communication at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. I have been part of the leadership of the Research Division since my initial year at BEA – first newsletter editor, then webmaster, then Vice-‐Chair, currently Chair. This year I also oversaw the Research-‐in-‐Progress submissions and the New Faculty Research Grant judging. This will also be my second year assisting with the non-‐poster-‐poster-‐ session. As I step away from the Research Division at the end of my term this year, I am looking for new ways to serve – and this opportunity seems like it has come at a fortuitous moment in that regard.
I will be the first to admit that, as I have not been a regional leader yet, I may be not completely tuned in to the political and logistical areas of the conference and the organization. This is not a new situation for me to be in – I typically charge ahead at a challenge and learn as I go, relying on those with more knowledge than I to fill in gaps where I can’t figure it out for myself. I envision taking the same approach here, if selected – to mine the experiences of previous chairs for as much knowledge as possible, and then bring my own talents to bear in maintaining those things that are already excellent and making some contribution towards bringing those things that are not yet excellent up to that level.
Those skills that serve me well in my position as faculty chair more or less cover the rest of the requirements – I am a communicator, team-‐builder, coach, leader, representative, worker bee, and whatever else is needed at any given moment by my department or my University. I see the majority of these skills as being essential to the person in the role of Program Chair.
I believe that we need to continue emphasizing the areas of pedagogy, assessment, and industry-‐relevant outcomes in our conferences, because they are so vitally important to the success of our students and higher education as a whole. Further, I believe that we need to continue putting professionals in proximity to academics at our conferences, because that is where the latest innovations find their way into our classrooms. Finally, I believe that we need to continue drawing current students into the fold by keeping the practice of programming sessions especially for them, so that we can ensure the relevance of BEA in the decades to come.
My early thought on a spotlight or convention theme would be something about looking to the future, and could include sessions on new technology and platforms, programmatic buying, operating partnerships, etc. This is an exceedingly preliminary idea, and I would want to find out how it complements the 2017 theme before settling on it. I view the conferences an ongoing and highly engaging conversation about the many industries that make up the media among those who are learning, teaching, and doing – in all of the overlapping roles that we all share.
In summary, I believe I have the skills, and I am very willing to serve in this capacity, should you choose to give me the opportunity.
See you in April! thom baggerman