An interview with AEJMC’s incoming president Poindexter

PoindexterAs Paula Poindexter prepared to become the 2013-2014 president of AEJMC, she answered questions about CSM and her top presidential priorities, and shared some thoughts about Dr. Lionel C. Barrow.

Curtis Lawrence (C.L.): In what ways is CSM important to the future of AEJMC?
The Commission on the Status of Minorities, along with the Commission on the Status of Women, was established under the bylaws that address AEJMC’s commitment to diversity. CSM is important to the future of AEJMC because of its inclusiveness mandate and its seat at the AEJMC Board of Directors table. The seat at the Board of Directors table enables CSM to have a direct voice to the leadership and executive director and keep inclusiveness a priority on AEJMC’s agenda.

C.L.: What are your top priorities for AEJMC and how can CSM members help you accomplish these goals?
Each AEJMC presidency has signature initiatives and my presidency will too.  Three of my initiatives described below represent new territory for AEJMC:

1.      Journalism and Communication Graduate Student Info Expo. This pilot initiative for graduate student recruitment will bring 18 journalism and communication graduate programs and prospective graduate students together at the conference. Special outreach is being done to minority journalism organizations to identify journalists who have been thinking about going to graduate school.  CSM can also encourage professionals and adjuncts who’ve been thinking about graduate school to attend the Journalism and Communication Graduate Student Info Expo which will be held Sunday, August 8, 8:30 to Noon. Participation is free but attendees do have to register. Information can be found at

2.      International regional conference pilot to be held in Santiago, Chile. After leading a delegation to Santiago in March, the AEJMC Board of Directors approved my request to hold a pilot international regional conference in Santiago, October 2015.  After we establish our presence on the international regional conference stage, my goal is to have AEJMC international regional conferences in Asia, Europe, Africa, etc. The planning committee for this pilot will meet at the conference on Wednesday, August 7, 3 pm to 6 pm and CSM members are welcome to attend.

3.      Future News Audience Initiative to Encourage News Engagement.  This initiative, which will include a national campaign and event to raise awareness about the importance of being informed, speaks to the future of the news media, the future of journalism education, the future of an informed democratic society, and the mission of AEJMC. CSM members are encouraged to get involved with this initiative. A committee on this initiative will meet at AEJMC, Saturday, August 10, 7 am to 8 am.

During the business meeting on Saturday, August 10 at 10 am when I’m installed as president, I’ll talk about these initiatives as well as share my thoughts about the AEJMC I know, past, present, and future.

C.L.: Since we'll be on Dr. Barrow's home turf for many years, it seems fitting to ask for your favorite memory or thoughts about Dr. Barrow.

When I first met Lee I was a graduate student and had no idea about Lee’s inclusiveness vision for our field.  I just knew that Lee was a very nice man and at the time, he was the Dean of the School of Communication at Howard University. When I received the minority student doctoral scholarship which has since been named after Lee, it never occurred to me that I was part of Lee’s grand vision.  Some years later when I was selected as the first recipient of the Lionel C. Barrow Jr. Award for Distinguished Achievement in Diversity Research and Education, I was well aware of the trail that Lee had blazed in our field and the vision he had for AEJMC. Lee’s vision was that for journalism and mass communication education to achieve its full potential, it had to be diverse in the faculty, scholarship, service, students, and affiliated industries in journalism, advertising, and public relations. 

Lee was not just a visionary; he was the architect who sketched the blueprint and the contractor who implemented the plans.  Although Lee did not have a seat at the Board of Directors table back then, he did know how to work collaboratively with others so that his powerful vision would be embraced by AEJMC leaders and members.

Ultimately with the founding of the MAC Division and the establishment of a diversity standard in the accreditation requirements, Lee became the inclusiveness conscience of AEJMC.  In many ways, the Commission on the Status of Minorities has inherited that legacy. And with its permanent seat at the AEJMC Board of Directors table, CSM can make sure that Lee’s inclusiveness vision remains an integral part of AEJMC’s identity today and in the future.   

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