Outgoing dean Ghanem talks Mount Pleasant, Chicago and CCFA


Salma Ghanem said leaving Central Michigan University is bittersweet for her.

She leaves July 31 to start at DePaul University in Chicago as dean of the College of Communication. Ghanem served as the dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts for five years.

As she makes her last preparations to hand off the reins to interim dean Shelly Hinck, Ghanem sat down with Central Michigan Life to discuss her time here and what she'll miss most about the area.

Central Michigan Life: What's one thing you're proud you accomplished?

Salma Ghanem: Helping fostering a culture of collaboration. I hope that I have been able to get some things started with seeds I've planted. I said it when I got here, but we're only as strong as the faculty. There's a lot of different items that are on that list. But the credit really goes to the faculty.

CML: What's one thing you wish you could have accomplished?

SG: I honestly can't think of anything. It's always a process. That's fine. There are no bad ideas in academia. I'm sure there will be a bit of a shift when I leave, but that's fine.

CML: Why did you come to Central Michigan University?

SG: When I was the chair (of the Department of Communication) at (University of Texas-Pan American,) I knew either I was going to move up or go back to being faculty. We had a cabin in the area. I was familiar with Central. I had heard great things and I knew it when I got here. It's a great place. There's nothing at Central that's pushing me away.

CML: It's about moving to your family, right?

SG: Yes. DePaul is great. It's a win-win. I'm excited about living in a big city.

CML: What's one thing you've learned about leadership here at CMU?

SG: I've learned to work with other people's timelines. You might have an idea and it might take a while for it to percolate. Give people time to give input. Slow down a bit. You want to make sure you have people's buy-in on ideas. You want their acceptance.

CML: What's the typical College of Communication and Fine Arts student like?

SG: The type of student CCFA attracts are students with passion. Some of the jobs might not be as lucrative, but they'll be extremely happy in what they do. The quality of life makes up for any perceived difference in income.

CML: What's something about CCFA students that make them different?

SG: I really do think CCFA students like to reach out to other people. Whether it's through journalism or broadcast or art or music, there's a sense of connectivity among the students and the staff. I love watching the relationship between the faculty. You ask what makes this college different. I tell people to go to the buildings on the weekends and at night. The students are here. The faculty are here. There's a mentorship and apprenticeship to this college. Students live the experience while they're in CCFA. I have not heard this about other fields.

CML: What about our faculty?

SG: They do a great job. They do a great job of reaching out to prospective students. I hope they continue to do well. I wish CCFA, and all of CMU, the utmost success.

CML: Why is a college education important?

SG: It's making you a well-rounded citizen. It's about life-long learning. I think, at least for myself, academia is an opportunity to keep on learning. You're surrounded by intelligent people all day.  You won't get this in any other field.

CML: What will you miss most about Mount Pleasant?

SG: The people. The faculty. The students. I've been here for five years. I know I will see a lot of people because Chicago is close, but I'm going to miss these people.

CML: Tell me about a great night you've had in Mount Pleasant?

SG: Some students are in a band: Kavazabava. I really like them. Mike Romaniak sent me an email saying they were going to play at Kaya one night. It was at 10:30 p.m. Shelly (Hinck) and I went out to that. That was a fun time. That meant a lot.

CML: Is there anything else you'd like to say about CMU?

SG: You can have a lot of institutions, but I will always have a special spot in my heart for CMU. I still care about what's happening in Texas. That connection will never go away. But if I see a sign or advertisement for CMU, I'll feel it. I already have tickets to an alumni event in Chicago on September 7. They're going to a Cubs game. It'll be fun.