Editorial: Here’s what we want in a new School of Communication and Design director


Photo credit: Mikayla Ferro

Daniel Schwalm

The School of Communication and Design has officially started the search for a new director. We feel strongly that students’ opinions should be taken into consideration during this search process. We also feel that, as a voice for many of Loyola’s students, we have a responsibility to weigh in on this process.

Sonya Duhé’s departure last year left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. We hope that the new director will be different—that the school’s administration has learned from the controversy that ensued when former students spoke up after Duhé left. Here’s what we want to see in a new director.

Our editorial board is in agreement that the next director should be a person of color. Having a person of color leading the school would help many students of color feel represented, when in the past they have been made to feel unwelcome. Furthermore, when students have called for a more diverse faculty in the School of Communication and Design in recent years, they have often been told that while everyone would like a more diverse faculty, we just can’t have one because we don’t have the money to hire more new professors. Here’s an opening. Take this opportunity to diversify in positions of power, because another one may not come for quite some time.

We also want someone who values every department and every student. For too long, there has been a disproportionate focus on the journalism department — and within the department, a disproportionate focus on broadcast journalism. Most students in this school do not want to be broadcast journalists, yet for years, Duhé relentlessly pushed any and all students toward a career in TV news. We deserve to have our school led by someone who won’t try to put us in a box, someone who appreciates every student’s unique goals and passions.

Too often in the past, students have felt like their school’s leadership has judged them for not being broadcast journalists. Design, visual communication, public relations, advertising, and film students all deserve to feel welcome and valued. It’s impossible for anyone to reach their full potential as a student if they do not have the support of their school. We need someone who will embrace students for who they are and help them reach their own goals, not someone will try to push everyone toward the same career.

Real-world experience is also key. The communication and design industries change constantly, and it’s important for the director of the school to be aware of the state of the industry today—not the state of the industry 30 years ago. We need to learn about and engage with current issues and movements in our industries instead of having outdated ideas of what our career paths used to be like pushed on us relentlessly.

Ideally, we’d like the new director to have experience in multiple fields. Broader experience would help a director know how to help every department in the school, not just one. A director who has worked in more than one mass communication field would better understand how they’re all connected and would better be able to understand what all students need across disciplines.

Finally, we need a director who likes working with students. We need to be able to approach them without feeling like a nuisance. We need to know that they actually care about our success, not just about how our success makes them look.

In fact, we’d prefer a director with recent teaching experience. Not only will this allow them to better understand how to work with students, but it will also help them to better help professors. A director who has been a teacher before will understand what it’s like in the classroom and thus be able to understand and react to any issues or concerns that arise between students and professors.

Filling this position is a big decision for our school’s leadership, so we want to make sure that they have as much input and guidance as possible. To the search committee: please, take our requests into consideration. We know how students in this school felt about our last director, and we want to make sure that our new director is inclusive and forward-thinking.

The director sets a tone for the rest of the school. They represent, in many ways, the entire School of Communication and Design. They influence hundreds of students’ lives every year. Let’s make sure we get this right.