Change within the Communication Department

Faculty is hopeful for the future

The Communication department has undergone many changes in the last year. With the passing of our beloved Director of Communication Program, Billie Jean Wiebe, PH.D., faculty members stepped up to care for the Communication students. Not only did the program lose Billie Jean Wiebe, PH.D., but there were also faculty members who left Fresno Pacific University to start new chapters in their lives. These faculty members left behind prospective classes for Communication students. 

Eleanor Nickel, Humanities Division Chair, stepped up and helped the entire Communication department. During the 2020-2021 winter break, Nickel and the faculty had to figure out who was going to teach Wiebe’s classes. 

“Just, like, having to pull out all of these classes, move students around, move faculty around all within, like, a couple of weeks, when everybody was grieving, was the hardest part,” Nickel said.

During the Spring 2021 semester, faculty was able to move around classes and successfully carry out the semester. However, at this point in time, the department was still functioning without any full-time Communication faculty members. As a result, Nickel continued to help advise students along with faculty member, Leann Lo, for the new 2021-2022 academic year that was approaching. Nickel was also in charge of the national search for hiring two new faculty members.

During the summer of 2021, two new faculty members were added to the Communication department: Randall Fowler and Seung Min Hong. Fowler was announced as our new Communication Program Director. Hong was added as an assistant professor in the areas of Media and Film studies, which is a big part of the Communication studies program. Nickel explained how during the hiring process, Fowler and Hong had to perform their teaching demos in challenging circumstances, but they did well anyways. 

“Both of them really rocked their teaching demos, and we were very impressed by that,” Nickel stated. 

After the two new additions, the Communication department started building itself again, and it is now functioning well on its own in the new academic school year. 

“So, yeah. So far, so good. I think we’re in a much better place. I feel like we have overcome everything. And we’re ready to just move forward,” Nickel said.

Although new to the Communication department, Hong has already noted some positive reviews about the FPU students, faculty, and the program. He was asked what he liked about the Communication students and staff.

“The community. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve seen a department, division, or school consisting of people who are this supportive,” Hong said. 

Hong has also expressed his surprise to see how much diversity is on campus. “At the pie & praise event last week, I was really glad to see that there are a lot more international students on campus than I thought. I wish to meet them someday and perhaps even have some of them in my Intercultural Communication course. I think their voices and perspectives would be extremely valuable!” Hong said. 

When Hong was asked about what he hopes to achieve at FPU, he communicated the reality of what it is like to be a new faculty member in the Communications department. 

“Just continue to grow as a scholar, teacher, and a colleague. This first year is a bit overwhelming for me to keep up with all three, but I’m sure I will gradually get into the rhythm of it, especially with the help of this wonderful community!” Hong said.

Hong expressed the difficulty of taking on multiple roles, but he is excited and eager to keep growing with the help of FPU students and staff.

 Fowler expressed only but good things about FPU.

“Teaching at Fresno Pacific, to take an image from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, has been like opening the door to a wonderful new world. So for me, I’d definitely say the best thing about FPU is the people. In short, I love that FPU is a place where the whole person—not just the intellect—is nourished,” Fowler said. 

The Communication Department has been through many changes, as shown by the words of faculty, but we, too, must transition and grow in order to succeed. Even though Fowler was not here while Wiebe was, he has still felt her mark she left on FPU. 

“Before talking about the future, it’s vital to note that I am deeply indebted to the work of my predecessor, Billie Jean Wiebe. Billie Jean’s hard work and incomparable dedication are evident everywhere I look, from the intentional design of our courses to the seniors I’m proud to call Communication majors. I aim to continue her legacy of student-focused education,” Fowler said.

By: Alicia Garcia & Eryca Goldsborough | Staff Writers

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