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President’s Corner
November 2016

There is so much to report to you this month, some of which you’ve heard (or read elsewhere in this newsletter) but some that might come as a pleasant surprise to you. I can state for certain that I’ve never had more good news about BEA to share at one time, so here goes:

At its meeting earlier this month, the BEA Board of Directors approved creation of a “Religion and Media” division, dedicated to advancing understandings of the intersection of religion and media and explore the roles that diverse religions and faith play in media and culture. In the petition to establish the new division, the 132 signees of the petition stated: “These purposes will be achieved through 1) promotion of high quality scholarship about faith and electronic media; 2) providing a forum for the discussion of critical issues involving religion, faith and media, and 3) promotion of creative work that investigates the confluence of religion and media.”

The new division is already gearing up for the 2017 BEA Annual convention, which will feature a business meeting for the election of officers and discussion of bylaws, as well as a couple of sessions devoted to the Religion and Media. Starting on 2018, the Division will have the same opportunities for competitions for research and creative works that other divisions have. If you’re interested in helping to build the division, please make sure you attend the 2017 Annual Convention in Las Vegas—there will be plenty of opportunity for you to get involved as the division puts down roots and starts to grow. (And watch for announcements of additional interest groups trying to become divisions, including service learning and video games.)

The next big piece of news is the creation of a new scholarship honoring Central Michigan University’s Pete Orlik, who has chaired the BEA Scholarship Committee for as long as I can remember. When the board started talking about the need for more permanently endowed scholarships, we wanted to recognize someone who had made substantial and lasting contribution to BEA. You’ll hear more about Pete’s great work for BEA in a few months. What you need to know now is that we are in the process of raising $100,000 to permanently endow this scholarship fund. Patrick Communications CEO Larry Patrick hears about the fund-raising effort, and he offered to match any contribution up to a total of $50,000. We started the fund-raising effort with a pledge of $4000 from Taylor & Francis, and we’ve since raised more than $23,000 for the fund—doubled by Larry Patrick for a total pledge amount of more than $46,000—so far. If you are one of the special people who knows Pete and have had a chance to work with him, I encourage you to do what the other special people have done and make a contribution to the scholarship fund.
Remember, anything you give at this point will be matched by Larry Patrick, so a $100 gift or pledge becomes $200; a $250 gift becomes $500, and a $500 gift becomes $1000! The best part is that BEA has set up a link that lets you donate directly, any time, anywhere: So, if you want to show your support for Pete and all he has done for scholarships for our students, visit the site today. (In any case, visit it before the end of December to get a deduction for your 2016 taxes—contributions to BEA’s scholarship endowments are tax deductible.
Your Board of Directors also elected new officers. Beginning at the Board meeting in April, University of Alabama’s Michael Bruce will become President of BEA, with Ohio Association of Broadcasters’ Christine Merritt continuing as Vice President for Industry Affairs, Colorado State’s Greg Luft becoming Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Texas A&M Commerce’s Tony DeMars becoming Secretary Treasurer. Larry Patrick has also been elected to rejoin the board as an Electronic Media Professional Director.

2017 Convention Chair Christine Taylor reported on the plans and tentative schedule for BEA 2017. I encourage you to make your reservations early—from the looks of the preliminary agenda, there will be dozens of sessions of interest to each and every one of us.

Another thing the board did was express our profound appreciation for the work of the BEA Executive Director, Heather Birks, and her staff. Their work supporting BEA is unparalleled, and we made sure they know how grateful we are for their contributions.

That’s all the space I have this month, so I’ll save the rest for next time. (And there’s a lot more to report!) As always, please let me know if there is anything I can do for you or your school. It is a privilege to lead BEA, and I’m looking forward to sharing even more good news with you in December.

Augie Grant, President