June 20, 2006

Organization honors communication dean

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A Southern Illinois University Carbondale dean is the recipient of an award for media research from an international communications group.

The Union for Democratic Communications honored Manjunath Pendakur, dean of the SIUC College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, with its Dallas Smythe Award. An author of groundbreaking work in the field of communications, Smythe penned early philosophies regarding the political economy approach to studying and understanding media.

Pendakur said the award is especially meaningful to him, as Smythe was a key adviser while Pendakur pursued his doctorate degree at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

"He was my teacher, my mentor and he guided me through my early years as a professor," Pendakur said. "I'm getting an award named after my professor, and it's doubly meaningful for me."

Pendakur received the award earlier this spring during an international conference titled "Against the Neoliberal Tide: Media and Democracy in the 21st Century" at Florida Atlantic University. The group considers nominations for the award every two years.

In making the award, the group stated: "The Dallas Smythe Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Union for Democratic Communications. Named in memory of one of the great pioneers of the study of the political economy of communications and one of the great leaders in the struggle for democratic communications, the Dallas Smythe Award honors individuals who have carried on these studies and struggles in ways that have inspired us all."

Smythe, who died in 1992, was an economist for the U.S. government and a communications professor in both the United States and his native Canada. He served at chief economist with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission during World War II, during which time he developed a philosophy concerning private use of public airways that remains the basis for government regulations to this day.

In addition to his duties as dean, Pendakur teaches courses on the political economy media theory at SIUC.

Seeking and celebrating faculty excellence is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.

Manjunath Pendakur

Manjunath Pendakur
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