School of Communication hires new program director
The School of Communication (SOC) at Radford University has a new program director, Professor Matthew J. Smith. Smith previously taught at Wittenberg University for more than a decade as professor of communication and director of cinema studies.
Smith is joining the Radford family at a unique time in its history. The new College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences (CHBS) building provides newfound unity for the college, which was previously scattered across Radford’s campus. New leadership from Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill and the SOC director are two big changes for the university and the school - and Smith hopes that everyone embraces “the new normal” at Radford.
“Finally, we’re all together,” said Smith. “We’re in this incredible new space, with incredible new technology and classroom resources. I think that us getting into a rhythm of working and being productive together is the overarching theme of the first year. Let’s figure out who are going to be together.”
Smith wanted to make sure that he was part of the new rhythm – he didn’t want to be removed from the rest of the faculty or the students. In the fall semester, Smith is teaching a course of personal interest: Graphic Storytelling, which examines the kind of communication going on in comic strips, comic books and graphic novels. Smith developed the course himself and wrote the textbook, “The Power of Comics: History, Form and Culture.”
“Teaching is terribly important to me,” Smith said. “I didn’t want to lose contact with students. I didn’t want to be one step away from what the mission of the university is – which is to educate students.”
Now that the SOC has stability, Smith’s primary focus is on planning for the future and developing a plan to successfully navigate the school to that destination. “My primary task is helping the school to run and the faculty succeed – which I love,” Smith said.
“I think a lot of what we’re going to be doing is planning for the future and thinking ahead strategically to see the timeline and the workload one, two, three and four years out so that we have a vision of where we might be at the end of my first term as director,” Smith said. “We’ll know where we’d like to be at the end of four years. Then we’ll figure out a way to get to that place as we move forward.”
With the move to the new CHBS building, the leadership of President Hemphill, Smith believes that “good things are ahead.”
“I really do believe that,” Smith said. “I’ve had a chance to have coffee, to have lunch and meet with several of the members of the department. Everybody I’ve spoken with is forward thinking. They are thinking about what’s next. There’s just so much energy about where we can go and I’m just so excited to be a part of that, feed off of that, and do my part just to energize everyone so that we not only see where we can go, but we actually start moving in that direction.”