Journalism department to hire two new faculty, review curriculum
Two new faculty members will join Central Michigan University’s journalism department for the upcoming fall semester.
Edgar Simpson, a doctoral candidate in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, will teach online and public affairs reporting, and Johnny Sparks, a faculty member at Texas Tech University, will teach advertising courses.
Along with hiring new faculty, the journalism department will be reviewing the current curriculum as the modern media industries continue to change.
Journalism department chairwoman Maria Marron said the two new faculty members will fill replacement positions for former CMU instructors David London and John Palen. Marron said the journalism department is always excited to bring new instructors to the university.
“(New faculty) come with fresh ideas, new ways of doing things, new ways of thinking and so on,” Marron said. “So it’s always an exciting time.”
Simpson will receive his doctorate from Ohio University before joining CMU’s journalism staff in the fall. Simpson said he has prior experience teaching in Ohio, though this will be his first full-time position.
“This will be my first full-time role as an instructor,” Simpson said. “I’m extraordinarily excited about it.”
Simpson will most likely teach reporting and public affairs reporting next semester, and emphasized the importance of online journalism and covering public affairs.
“When you look at where journalism is heading, digital journalism is obviously extraordinarily important but what is often left out of discussion is the importance of public affairs reporting,” Simpson said.
Sparks said one of the main reasons he chose to transfer to CMU was to move closer to his family in Bloomington, Ind. Sparks said he was looking to move back to the midwest after leaving in 2006 when he graduated from Indiana University.
“I really like Mount Pleasant. I’m a small-town midwest kind of guy, and it seems like it’s my kind of place,” Sparks said. “It’s a community that I look forward to being a part of.”
Before his work at Texas Tech, Sparks worked as an assistant professor at the University of Alabama and conducted research at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University for a pre-doctoral fellowship. Sparks will likely teach advertising principles and advertising media, and said he is excited to teach the basics of advertising to introductory students and instruct students that will soon begin their professional careers as well.
“I have experience in advertising ranging from working for the advertising side of newspapers to producing advertising, designing advertising, writing the ads and creating concepts,” Sparks said. “I’ve had a pretty wide range of experience in the industry as an independent contractor.”
Marron said the department reviews curriculum on a regular basis and will meet for two days in April to reassess individual classes and concentrations.
“Right now, because of the huge changes that are taking place in the media, we need to (review curriculum) even more so than before,” Marron said. “So we’re looking at everything from public relations to what has been our traditional core to photojournalism and online — just about every sequence in the major and every individual course.”
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