May 24, 2007

SIUC's Mass Communication and Media Arts dean Pendakur takes post at Florida Atlantic University

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Faced with "one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make," Manjunath Pendakur, dean of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, is moving to a new position with "many greater challenges."

Pendakur, who came to SIUC in 2001, will become dean of the Dorothy Schmidt College of Arts and Letters at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton in March 2008. He is in the midst of a research leave from SIUC to conduct research in India that ultimately will lead to a book.

SIU President Glenn Poshard praised Pendakur for his contributions.

"Under the leadership of Dr. Pendakur, the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts has continued to show much progress in many important programs," he said. "Dean Pendakur should take with him to Florida Atlantic University a sense of accomplishment and the certain knowledge that his contributions to SIU Carbondale are greatly appreciated."

Gary Kolb, associate dean, professor and director of the college's New Media Center, will serve as acting dean, pending approval by the SIU Board of Trustees.

"Gary Kolb will do an excellent job in leading the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts," said John M. Dunn, SIUC interim chancellor. "Gary has a long record of service to the University and is an effective leader and manager. The college is in very capable hands."

Dunn also congratulated Pendakur on his new position.

"We wish all the best to Dr. Pendakur as he takes on his new duties at Florida Atlantic University," Dunn said. "Under his leadership, and with the talent of the college's outstanding faculty and staff, the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts has solidified and enhanced its reputation for excellence. His experience and guidance will be missed."

Interim Provost Don Rice said the University will conduct a national search for Pendakur's replacement beginning next fall.

Florida Atlantic Provost John Pritchett said his university is "delighted to have recruited an individual of Dr. Pendakur's stature to lead our College of Arts and Letters. He was an outstanding asset to SIUC and I am confident that he will be an even greater asset to our leadership team and to our university."

In his new position, Pendakur will oversee a college with 13 departments and a variety of certificate programs. The college boasts 175 faculty members. SIUC's college offers undergraduate and graduates degrees from the departments of Cinema & Photography and Radio-Television and the School of Journalism. The college also is home to the Broadcasting Service and Global Media Research Center.

"This has been a bittersweet situation for me," Pendakur said. "I've learned so much here and made so many friends in the community. I will miss all of that."

He is proud of the college's many accomplishments over the past six years, and is confident the college will continue to enhance its reputation through its stable leadership and talented faculty. Pendakur noted that a key emphasis in the college continues to be keeping pace with the rapid changes in media and technology. New master of fine arts and master of science curriculums are in place, and efforts to revise the undergraduate curriculum are under way.

Thirty-nine new faculty members, whom he described as "extraordinary media professionals," joined the college during his tenure.

"Our students are trained to contribute to the industry in meaningful ways," he said. "I think we've been incredibly successful."

Prior to coming to SIUC, Pendakur served for three years as founding dean of the Faculty of Information & Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario.

"I came here nearly six years ago because I knew of SIUC's reputation and commitment to serving first-generation college students and to diversity," he said. "I wanted to train students to be leaders in the communications industry, not just cogs in a wheel."