This is my final note as SMPA Director before I pass the baton to Professor Peter Loge in July.
I am grateful to the SMPA community for the opportunity to lead the School, and for your trust and support during the past three years. It has been an honor to work closely with so many of you. It is the kind of job you cannot do alone. You always work with others. Your success depends on engaging, listening, and acting together.
Being SMPA Director has been one of the most important and gratifying roles of my academic career, one that I will always treasure. The rewards have exceeded the occasional stress (largely due to the complexities of the pandemic). Fresh strands of grey hair may suggest otherwise, but they are signs of aging. Correlation is not causation.
I would like to offer special thanks to our students for your dedication, curiosity, and enthusiasm, which made my job particularly stimulating. Thanks to the wonderful staff for ensuring everything goes smoothly, your can-do attitude and hard work every single day. Thanks to my colleagues for your commitment to our students, as well as your camaraderie and collaborative spirit. Thanks to the National Council for your indefatigable support, as well as your generosity and advice. Thanks to the alumni for helping SMPA in so many ways, such as engaging with students and keeping our personal and professional bonds thriving.
As an immigrant, first-gen, Latino scholar, it has been quite a privilege to serve a School like ours. We have a clear mission and cohesive vision about media and public affairs – the importance of facts, truth-telling, and information, especially in relation to tackling some of the most difficult problems of our times. We are nationally and internationally recognized, with a fabulous faculty of researchers and practitioners. We offer remarkable opportunities for our talented and driven students to flourish and go on to change the world. Our Centers and Projects convene important conversations on timely topics and produce excellent work. Our alumni and friends are in leadership positions in the fields of news, media, and strategic and political communication.
“Only at SMPA” often rang true during my tenure as Director: talking with students about their amazing internships and exciting plans; learning about the accomplishments of alumni and their willingness to give back; listening to inspiring guest speakers; discussing with colleagues the challenges of our current media politics; working with staff to make magic happen (especially amid pandemic-related complications), and exchanging ideas with Council members about industry, politics, and society.
Together, we continue to make SMPA an exciting, vibrant place to work and study. A true community of learning and practice, where everyone is welcome, recognized and included, where caring and solidarity are central to our growth as students, teachers, professionals, and citizens. Education does not happen in isolation; it is a collective effort that connects us all in so many, visible and invisible ways. We benefit from the past and the current work of others; we sow the seeds for others to come.
Going forward, I hope that we continue to strengthen our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. We should think imaginatively about ways to support each other with respect and empathy. We should be attentive to areas of growth, as news, media and political communication continue to change at a fast pace.
Next, I go back to teaching, research, and writing. I will start my term as president of the International Communication Association, the largest professional organization for communication scholars. My main responsibility will be to lead the preparation of the 2024 annual conference in Australia. Also, I will be working on a journalism textbook - a global overview of fundamental contemporary questions, such as funding, politics, technology, audiences, and the future. I will also dig into a new project on communication, information, and environmental issues amid the boom of extractive industries in Latin America.
In between these projects, I will spend more time with family and dog Bodhi, try new cooking recipes, and pluck, strum, and shred stringed instruments.
For sure, I have gained many nuggets of wisdom during my time as Director. But basically, I confirmed what I regularly remind my daughters: remember to stay engaged, life is happening.
I would love to stay connected – please reach out, stop by my office, drop me a line.
As we say where I hail from, muchas gracias!