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Date:            April 13, 2016
To:                 BEA Executive Committee, Board of Directors, and BEA Members
From:          John Allen Hendricks, Ph.D.;  BEA President (2015-2016)
Subject:      President’s Report

Compared to many BEA members, I am a relative newcomer to the association. I first attended a BEA conference in 2004 and was very impressed. Accordingly, the following year I made my first scholarly paper presentation at BEA and I have never missed a conference since. From the beginning, I found BEA to be a welcoming and fun group of scholars who are deeply interested in electronic media topics, both theoretical and practical. I found it to be an association that valued its members and if you wanted to get involved, there was definitely a place for you at BEA!

In 2006, only two years after having attended my first BEA conference, I raised my hand and volunteered to be the Newsletter Editor for the Radio & Audio Media (RAM) Division which led to roles as Secretary, Vice Chair/Research Paper Competition Chair, and eventually Chair of the RAM Division.

In 2008, only four years after attending my first BEA conference, I was elected to represent District 5 (Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas) on the Board of Directors. In turn, that led to roles on the Board’s Executive Committee as Secretary/Treasurer (2013-2014), Vice President for Academic Relations (2014-2015), and President (2015-2016).

This upward trajectory of my leadership involvement in BEA is shared simply to illustrate to you that there’s a place in BEA to volunteer your time, energy, and efforts. I encourage and challenge each of you to get actively involved in this great association of ours! In business meetings, raise your hand and volunteer to be a part of BEA’s leadership and encourage your colleagues to join BEA and get involved. It is an organization that is comprised of some impressive scholars; it is an organization that I have been proud to be involved in for more than a decade now.

During my presidency this year, in addition to celebrating the association’s 60th anniversary, I embarked upon several specific initiatives to strengthen components of the organization and hopefully propel it forward. To do so, I formed the following committees:

First, based upon organizational changes over the past few years, the association’s Bylaws were in need of a thorough revision. With Vic Costello and Christine Merritt at the helm of that task, our Bylaws will be updated and reflective of the organization’s evolution over the past several years. The major proposed revisions to the bylaws include: 1) creating parallel procedures for nominating and electing industry representatives to the Board and establishing their term limits; 2) improving the grammatical consistency and organizational flow of the written narrative with significant improvements made to article and section headings and their arrangement within the bylaws; 3) improving the clarity of sections dealing with Board structure, the Executive Committee, the Directors, Industry Representatives, and IDR; 4) adding accommodations for electronic meetings and voting; 5) clarifying differences between Standing Committees of the Board and Presidentially Appointed Committees of the Board and their duties and functions; and 6) moving certain non-essential sections in the Bylaws to the Board Policy Handbook and other essential sections from the Board Policy Handbook to the Bylaws.

Second, a committee chaired by Greg Luft explored whether the organization’s name remains relevant in the 21st century as all forms of mass media have evolved. A total of 340 academic members, 33 student members and 10 professional affiliates completed a survey to help guide us as we considered whether the association’s name warranted a change.  The majority of respondents agreed that the current name is still relevant. This general theme was consistent across academic, student and professional members.

Third, there was a desire to increase faculty membership in the association and Augie Grant served as chair of this committee. Specifically, the overall goal is to increase total membership in BEA by 160 members before January 2017, including an “individual faculty” membership goal of 1,000 faculty members. Rather than attempt to achieve this growth in one step, the membership committee will continue to work for the next two years to increase faculty membership. The District Directors have been encouraged to experiment with membership campaigns in their districts, sharing the techniques and results with other Directors on a regular basis. Please encourage your colleagues to join BEA and contact your District Directors to see how you can help.

Fourth, a committee was established to explore the creation of an “Industry Advisory Council” chaired by Christine Merritt and was comprised of media professionals to, initially, focus on three areas:  1) further develop and implement the BEA Thought Leadership Seminars; 2) identify sessions for the BEA annual conventions; and 3) focus on the types of relationships similar to those we have built this year with NAB & RAB for the Radio Show Student Scholars Program, the Library of American Broadcasting Foundation’s Historian Award and the partnership with the Alliance for Women in Media’s “Women Leading in Media” symposium. The role of this council will certainly expand in the future as association needs arise. For me personally, this is one of the most exciting developments from our team work this year. This council will play an infinitely influential role in attracting a robust array of “big names” to our conference as speakers and as workshop leaders. Note: this new council will always be chaired by the sitting Vice President for Industry Relations.

Fifth, a research enhancement committee was established to identify ways in which the association can improve its rigor related to research at the annual conference and Joe Blaney chaired this committee. One initiative that originated from this committee and approved by the Board of Directors at our November 2015 meeting was to implement a letter writing database identifying individuals who would be willing to write letters of recommendation on behalf of BEA faculty who are applying for tenure and promotion, grants, etc. Incoming president, Augie Grant, is responsible for appointing an individual to oversee this database which will be hosted on the BEA web page in the near future. Further, this committee recommended a “new scholar” award be given each year – I hope this will be awarded soon to a deserving new scholar. Indeed, the work on this committee continues and will partner more closely with the Research Committee during the 2016-2017 year.

Sixth, a communication committee was formed to identify ways in which the organization’s internal and external communication to the membership can be improved and Michael Bruce served as chair. The work of this committee is on-going and has been tasked with exploring social community applications for division/district leadership to communicate internally about initiatives related to outreach, solicit feedback, share best practices, foster a sense of community and become a repository of institutional memory.

Seventh, a diversity committee was formed with the charge of ensuring the association fully embraces its goal of building an inclusive and diverse membership and Jen Meadows served as chair. The good work of this committee yielded several outstanding initiatives such as: 1) collecting diversity demographics data from BEA members, 2) creating an annual convention keynote session on the state of diversity in media, 3) providing an annual diversity in media research award, and 4) building partnerships with minority media to create scholarships, keynotes, and special workshops. This committee also recommended adding a non-English language category to the Festival of Media Arts and adding a new category in the festival for productions that demonstrates an enhancement of diversity. All of these initiatives will be implemented during the 2016-2017 year.

Eighth, you will notice that the Journal of Media Education (JoME) will look different in the future. David Byland is to be commended for an outstanding job with JoME. The association and its members are indebted to him for serving as an excellent editor and creating a truly impressive online journal model for the association. In addition to a new JoME editor, as David Byland’s editorship concludes, you will notice that JoME will become a hybrid publication with both peer-reviewed and editor-reviewed publications as content. At least 25% of the cumulative 2017 editions and beyond will include peer-reviewed content with the intent to expand that percentage at a reasonable rate over the next several years. The focus of the journal will remain on pedagogy.

Ninth, I continued the tradition of engaging in a strategic planning retreat with members of the Executive Committee. Warner Bros. has been very generous to host us at the studios in Burbank, California for a number of years now, and I extend sincere appreciation to Bruce K. Rosenblum (BEA Board of Directors and retired Warner Bros. Executive Vice President), Liz Huszarik (Executive Vice President, Warner Bros. Media Research & Insights), and Mara Alvarez (Warner Bros., Administrative Assistant) for serving as such great hosts. Above all, I am indebted to Alexia Raven (Vice President, Warner Bros. Media Research & Insights) for serving as the moderator of our strategic planning session this year. At this year’s retreat, with her guidance, we developed a three-year strategic plan that will focus on these goals (some of which are currently being implemented at this year’s conference)

Goal 1 > Increasing Membership (Individual) – 2 Year goal = 1,000 Members
Goal 2 > Expanding Reach of Graduate Students in the Organization

Goal 1 > Find Balance and Solutions that Protect Staff from Being Overwhelmed
Goal 2 > Support District Directors, Division Chairs & Committees – Refinement

Goal 1 > Create Industry Advisory Council / Increase Fundraising

“Action Plans” for each goal were created at the Strategic Planning retreat and details will be forthcoming from the Board of Directors as this plan is implemented.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the financial state of the association is very healthy. Under the keen stewardship of Heather Birks, the association has a firm financial footing and a solid plan for future financial growth. A finance committee chaired by Michael Bruce – in his role as Secretary/Treasurer – has focused on providing transparent financial information to the membership and more information regarding this will be forthcoming. I also created a revenue enhancement and non-traditional partnership committee and asked Augie Grant to serve as its chair. The committee’s first goal was to endow the Ken Harwood Dissertation Award. This committee worked diligently to successfully endow the Harwood dissertation award by raising more than $25,000 in donations. Sincere thanks to Routledge/Taylor & Francis, past presidents, and the current Board of Directors for their very generous financial donations for this endowment.

When you see them at this year’s conference, give a sincere “thank you” to the following individuals for their service to the association on the Board of Directors as their terms come to a conclusion: Joe Blaney, Deborah Wilson David, Barry Umansky, and Ric Harris. Each of them gave a tremendous amount of their time and expertise that greatly benefitted the association.

As we begin this year’s convention, the association is in fantastic hands with the guidance of your new BEA president Augie Grant. He has an impressive slate of new initiatives he plans to unfold as well as pursue several of the initiatives mentioned above to carry them through to completion. I look forward to working with Augie in my new role as Immediate Past President.

In closing, as president of BEA this year, I had the very good fortune to work closely with Augie Grant, Christine Merritt, and Michael Bruce – I sincerely thank each of them for their solid advice and wise guidance. Similarly, I could not have asked for a better Board of Directors to work with and carry out all of the business of the association than the one that I got to work with this year. Above all, I am most indebted to Heather Birks and her terrific staff of Traci Bailey and J-D Boyle. Congratulations to Heather and Traci for their 10 years of service to BEA! We’re most fortunate to have them! I hope you’ll thank all of these individuals for their service to the BEA.

With gratitude,

John Allen Hendricks, Ph.D.
BEA President (2015-2016)