New chair leading Media and Communication at ETSU

Published 8:58 am Tuesday, November 23, 2021

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Dr. Andrew Dunn wants to provide industry experiences for students

JOHNSON CITY — Years before Dr. Andrew Dunn arrived on the campus of East Tennessee State University in fall 2010, the Florida-born and Alabama-raised transplant had already carved out a successful career.

Serving as a reporter at the Florida-based Tallahassee Democrat and The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla., Dunn wrote important stories about education and legislative politics.

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Dunn, who earned a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Alabama, is now the chair of the Department of Media and Communication at ETSU, an appointment he received earlier this year.

His professional achievements are helping guide the department he now leads.

“We pride ourselves on having faculty who keep one foot in the professional world and one foot in the academic world, as all of our faculty have real-world career experience, which benefits our students tremendously. I was a professional journalist, and so I know what it takes to thrive in that hyper-competitive environment,” he said. “But whether we are talking about journalism, advertising, public relations, radio, TV or film, the industry as a whole requires skills. Hard and soft skills. You can’t just learn that in a book; you must experience it. You must do it.”

A quick look at the department’s web presence reveals what makes ETSU distinct for students: dozens of professional advisers are available for consultation, there is $1.5 million worth of experiential media facilities available to use, and more than 40 industries have partnered with the department to provide internships, training and collaboration.

Dunn, whose academic research focuses on media psychology and communication technology, wants students to learn critical skills and then practice them. Beyond that, students must work with companies — something made possible by ETSU’s partnerships with a variety of firms — to practice those skills.

“We train you in the latest technology and software and certifications, which is where our partnerships with companies like Adobe or our training in Google Analytics come in,” he said. “However, what we teach isn’t button-mashing and knob-turning. We teach you how to take what you have learned here and apply it to new scenarios out there in the professional world. We teach you to be nimble, to be adaptable and to be lifelong learners.”

Drawing more students to the department is chief among Dunn’s goals as chair. Doing so means expanding what people think when they ponder “media and communication,” he said.

“Are you a creative type? We’ve got you. Do you like to make films, shoot pictures, write stories? We’ve got you. Do you like to plan events or influence people or promote products or build your social network? We’ve got you. Do you like sports, news, movies, TV, music videos, social media? We’ve got you. Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit? We’ve got you,” he said. “Have you already gotten a degree and are looking for a master’s degree to expand your skills and position you more competitively in the industry? We’ve got you.”

To learn more about Media and Communication, visit