Dean Jerry Ceppos
Dear students, alumni, faculty and other friends,
In my third year as dean of the Manship School, I consider it an honor to preside during our centennial. We’re in a select group of top universities that have been teaching journalism and mass communication for 100 years. In my view, we’re also in an even more distinct group because we know exactly what our mission is: teaching and conducting research at the intersection of media and public affairs. What could be more important as our country deals with the twin dilemmas of leadership gridlock in Washington and a massive revolution in the way that we get information?
One of the phrases that you’ll see in our publicity often this year now seems especially appropriate: “Connecting the past to influence the future.” We’ll try to do that in all of our centennial activities. The first was March 21, when we will dedicate a giant 10-foot-high banner embroidered with the words of the First Amendment. We made that connection again on April 17 and 18, when we brought some of the giants of the civil-rights movement to the Manship School to talk about coverage of the movement, the politics of it—and the future of civil rights. We’ll make that connection again when we move our annual Breaux Symposium to Washington for the first time, on May 15. And we’ll certainly do it Oct. 23-26, our official centennial weekend. Watch Manship100.com, Twitter and occasionally even the mail for information about events. Please be sure that we have your correct mailing and e-mail addresses. Feel free to send them to me at Jceppos@lsu.edu.
Speaking of the communications revolution, five faculty members and I just returned from Silicon Valley and San Francisco, where we interviewed officials from top technology companies and other change agents about The Next New Thing, as entrepreneurs there like to say. We talked to executives from Google, You Tube, Twitter and the much-publicized Stanford University “d. school,” which does innovative product design. We also met with a serial entrepreneur and with ethicists at Santa Clara University. In every conversation, we were looking to the future of mass communication (and how to prepare students for it). The irony struck me about halfway through our trip: This extremely futuristic project took place as we begin to celebrate our centennial year.
As a result of those tumultuous 100 years and this trip, I’m more convinced than ever that we must teach students that nothing is forever. When even our Google host said that his bosses constantly look over their shoulders to identify The Next New Thing, it’s clear that change never will stop. That should make for a fascinating world of mass communication—but also one requiring more flexibility than most of us are born with. Our goal is to prepare our students to accept, and even embrace, change.
Thank you to the many who have contributed so richly to the history of this School through giving, teaching, learning and visiting.
We look forward to reconnecting with you this year. Please stop by when you are on campus or write or call with ideas—firstname.lastname@example.org or (225) 578-9294.