A couple of months into Ed Kelley’s appointment as interim dean of Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the college has already experienced major changes.
Kelley, who served as the director of experiential learning for Gaylord from May 26 - July 15, has laid off several staff members and reappointed another position within a week of being appointed dean.
Kelley said his work on the Gaylord Board of Visitors as well as the Gaylord Advisory Committee prior to that gave him insight into Gaylord and its needs.
“I came in knowing a lot of the members of the faculty as well as the staff and that gave me a lot of confidence coming back to OU,” Kelley said. “It would have been a lot more difficult if I had been away for 40 years and came back not knowing anyone.”
Kelley said areas he plans to focus on include increasing diversity within the college and creating opportunities for students.
“(Diversity) is not just one of my goals but the goal of everyone at Gaylord College,” Kelley said. “(We are) really doubling down and working really hard to diversify our student body and then in turn diversify our faculty and diversify our staff.”
Kelley said he is working with Dorion Billups, the coordinator of community inclusivity, and the OU Office of Admissions and Recruitment to recruit more minorities and students of lower socioeconomic status.
Billups said they are planning to have a stronger recruiting presence in high schools.
“I’ve met with Dean Kelley on a number of occasions to talk about diversity, and it’s truly something he’s passionate about. It’s evident,” Billups said.
Melanie Wilderman, an assistant professor of journalism and director of the Oklahoma Institute for Diversity in Journalism, a summer workshop for high school students, said Kelley has been supportive of the workshop.
“I was really happy that he was around (for OIDJ) and introducing himself to all those visiting high school students and engaged with that diversity program this summer,” Wilderman said.
To create opportunities for students, Kelley said he plans to partner with departments around campus to bring more to Gaylord. One such event is a technology teach-in, modeled after a similar event put on by Price College of Business, that is scheduled for Friday, Kelley said.
The teach-in is a continuation of a push for faculty to incorporate technology in the classroom. Wilderman said that if Kelley makes technology a priority, it will help the faculty and be good for students.
“As a faculty member, sometimes I get mired down in the specific things I’m supposed to be doing, the classes I teach, the students I need to talk to and sometimes these new technological advances can pass me by,” Wilderman said.
Kelley said he plans to develop a mentorship program within the college and emphasize internships. He said there have also been discussions of a job shadowing program.
“One thing we’re really going to emphasize that’s really important to me is making sure as many students here have as many opportunities as possible with mentorships,” Kelley said.
Billups said Kelley’s journalism experience and relationships will benefit the college.
“Having been an editor of The Oklahoman and being well traveled as well, he’s been able to build a ton of great relationships, and he’s a really strong networker, and that’s kind of the position of any dean — is someone who has done really good work professionally and is able to use those connections to help take their college to the next level,” Billups said.