Newhouse : Dean candidate discusses future amidst uncertaintie: Grogg visits from Miami, spends hour answering student questions, concerns
Students took part in the search for a new dean of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications as one of the remaining two candidates, Sam L. Grogg, traveled to Syracuse from Miami yesterday to speak with Newhouse students and faculty.
He touched on his potential vision to uphold a reputation of excellence at Newhouse and his extensive background in film.
Approximately 100 students attended a one-hour question-and-answer session with Grogg in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium in Newhouse III Thursday afternoon. But Grogg’s commitment to Newhouse was called into question
On Jan. 15, the University of Miami student newspaper, The Hurricane, reported that Grogg had ‘no intention’ of leaving UM.
The day before the article in The Hurricane, an e-mail was sent to the Newhouse faculty and staff announcing Grogg’s visit to SU, from David C. Smith, chair of the search committee and SU’s vice president of administrative planning. The committee invited both Grogg and the other finalist, Lorraine Branham, to campus for interviews with representatives from Newhouse and the university in January.
When news of Grogg’s potential visit to Syracuse University reached UMiami, administrators, faculty and students were shocked. Grogg quickly responded to the worriment by explaining at the present time, without any actual job offer, he does not want to leave Miami.
‘It’s tough. When you’re really in the midst of change and you’re as connected as I am to the students and supportive as I am of the student newspaper-to say that you might be leaving, it’s hard for both sides,’ Grogg said.
Grogg said he has no reason to want to leave Miami, he said, but the opportunity to hold deanship at Newhouse is an exciting and significant prospect for him.
‘When Newhouse calls, you answer the call,’ Grogg said. ‘You’ve set the agenda, you’ve set the stage and the rest of the schools are looking at this one.’
And in terms of preparation for the position, Grogg calls his experience with film ‘multidisciplinary.’ His academic experience includes the founding deanship of the film school at the North Carolina School of the Arts, the deanship of the graduate conservatory for the American Film Institute and his current deanship of the University of Miami School of Communication.
Grogg also has worked in the industry marketing and producing films.
‘I watch a lot of movies; I watch a lot of television; I watch a lot of news,’ Grogg said. ‘I don’t sleep much.’
Grogg teaches an undergraduate course in motion picture marketing and distribution and a graduate course in culture criticism of popular film and television at UM. Since 1974, he has spent only a handful of semesters removed from the classroom, he said.
A fan of reality television and a man who gets ‘creeped out’ by violent movies, he stressed how important the task of a communications professional is to do good in the world.
The diverse locations of Grogg’s former jobs complement his belief in the importance of traveling abroad. Grogg has walked on nearly every continent and advocates students to follow his example. At 60 years old, he said he has reached the point of his life where he would consider settling down at one job through retirement.
‘We knew-and know-that Miami isn’t a place we plan to be permanently rooted,’ Grogg said of him and his wife.
Grogg did not want to make a comparison between the University of Miami’s School of Communication and Newhouse. However he did mention a few differences between the two schools.
He noted the difference in climate from Miami, telling students he hasn’t seen snow in about six years.
‘You don’t have alligators on your campus, do you?’ Grogg asked the Newhouse students.
He emphasized the two schools cannot be compared to each other because they’re simply two different places, but did mention that the communications program at UMiami is modeled after Newhouse.
Miranda Villei, the undergraduate student representative on the search committee, expressed concerns about Grogg’s remarks, although he assured he would strive to maintain the Newhouse reputation if hired.
‘I like Sam Grogg. I think that he has a lot to offer as a finalist,’ said Villei, a senior broadcast journalism major. She e-mailed other students in the Newhouse School months ago to find out what they wanted in a new dean.
Students’ voices will be highly considered in the selection process said Smith, search committee chair and vice president of enrollment management.
Villei and the graduate student representative Soo Yeon Hong have been working with the search committee since last summer.
They plan to bring their observations from Thursday’s presentation to meetings with the search committee.
‘He’s very comfortable with himself and loves what he does in Miami,’ Hong said. She was surprised students were not concerned about Grogg’s lack of experience in journalism.
Grogg will leave today after meeting with committees and faculty in Newhouse and the SU administration. The students at Thursday’s meeting reflected many of the questions the faculty has asked about Grogg’s vision, Hong said.
The committee plans to make a recommendation to the SU Provost Eric Spina with enough time to have the new dean in place by the start of the fall 2008 semester.
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