As Bill Christ, a professor of communication, enters his last year of phased retirement, the department of communication is seeking faculty to fill the gap that he will leave behind.
“In communication, we only have eight full-time tenure-track faculty members, so anytime we hire a person for one of those positions, we’re really talking about changing the dynamics of the department a little bit. It’s hard for us because we don’t want to see Dr. Christ go, but it is always substantial at a school like Trinity,” said Jennifer Henderson, head of the department of communication.
Throughout the hiring process of the new faculty member, the search committee has asked students who are communication majors or otherwise involved in the department to get to know some of the candidates for the position and provide their thoughts on them.
“We try to get students involved every time we do a hire in our department and there are two key ways that they’re involved. One is that we always have visiting faculty candidates teach a class in front of students, and then we ask students to give their feedback about that teaching process,” Henderson said.
Paige Perez, Lavanya Hospeti and Michael Carroll were students who had the opportunity to interact with the potential hires.
“I spent about an hour talking to the potential faculty members about their past academic experiences, but also tried to just get to know who they were as a person. We didn’t just talk about school, but also some common interests like travel, food, exploring San Antonio and other stuff like that,” said Perez, who is a TigerTV student manager.
Hospeti, a TigerTV manager and sociology major, met with the potential candidate and enjoyed contributing to the process.
“I really enjoyed being a part of the process! I think that Trinity has done an amazing job in all departments of involving students with the process of selecting faculty. This really shows that they value the student body’s opinions of the school.I contributed my opinion of the candidate and how I thought she would fit in with the school,” Hospeti said.
Carroll was able to participate by being in one of the classes that the candidates taught.
“I was a student in Dr. Huesca’s Media Audiences class. The possible new faculty members each gave a lecture on their own day during class. They were all really good. They each had a friendly and intelligent attitude about their topic or lecture that welcomed discussion,” Carroll said.
Students thought the potential hires would fit well at Trinity.
“They were all very bright, but some were more approachable than others. When the conversation really flows between you and a candidate, you know that they would be a great fit for the department. We don’t just want someone who can teach students — we also need someone who can talk to, adapt to and learn from the students,” Perez said.
According to professors within the department of communication, the hiring process has been successful so far. The top four candidates have already been interviewed on campus and have interacted with students, and now the committee can move closer to hiring someone. Current faculty hope to reach a decision soon, since Christ leaves a large gap to be filled. However, faculty and students are sad to see Christ go.
“It is difficult to imagine the department of communication without Dr. Christ. He is a stellar scholar, a committed teacher and a mentor to whom I regularly turn for advice,” said Aaron Delwiche, professor of communication. “He was one of the very first communication educators to recognize that the accelerating pace of technological change requires a flexible, holistic curriculum. He was also instrumental in building a culture that values the integration of theory and practice.”