June 24, 2008

Phylis Johnson named interim radio-TV chair

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A familiar face is the interim chair of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Radio-Television.

Gary P. Kolb, interim dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, announced Monday (June 23) that Phylis A. Johnson, associate professor of radio-television at SIUC, is serving as interim chair. The appointment, subject to ratification by the SIU Board of Trustees, became effective earlier this month.

Johnson joined the radio-television faculty as an assistant professor in 1990 and became an associate professor in 1996. She chaired the department for three years beginning in August 2002.

Johnson’s familiarity with the department is integral, Kolb said, noting that academic programs and ongoing faculty research initiatives will continue with very little disruption.

“She knows the college well and knows the institution well,” he said. “She can step in pretty seamlessly. She will do a good job.”

Johnson has “always been a student-centered professor. When she was chair she was a very student-centered chair. She will bring that to the job again,” he said.

Johnson replaces John Hochheimer, who came to SIUC as department chair in summer 2006. Hochheimer remains a professor within the department and decided to step down for professional and personal reasons, Kolb said. The move allows Hochheimer more time for research based around reconciliation and journalism, and he will continue to be a “major contributor to the research and teaching programs in the college,” Kolb said.

Kolb anticipates Johnson will serve as chair on an acting basis likely for little more than a year. The college is in the process of beginning a national search for a new chair. The application deadline is Oct. 15, and the college will work “very aggressively to recruit a high-quality pool of candidates,” he said. There are 14 tenure track and four term faculty members in the department.

There are already several people who have expressed interest in the post, he said.

“I’m really optimistic we are going to get a good group of people,” Kolb said.

Johnson said she knows the challenges ahead but likes the strength of the faculty and what the department is accomplishing. She wants to continue working with curriculum revision, a task she calls “an ongoing process.”

“We’ve done some exciting things in getting new faculty” the past several years, she said. “We are really on a strong path. We can do some wonderful things with the curriculum.”

Because of her previous experience as department chair, Johnson said she has more confidence than she did the first time.

“I have so much patience this time around because I’ve been down this road. I think having been here for so many years I really understand the department, the college and the University,” she said.

Because she enjoys the classroom and working with students, Johnson will teach six hours this fall in addition to her duties as department chair.

Her current research interest is new media, particularly virtual environments and sound culture. She is presenting at the University of Cambridge in England in September. Johnson’s research also includes gender and cultural diversity issues.

Johnson has more than 20 years of professional experience in the radio industry, working in a variety of markets including Houston, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Carbondale.

She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas A&M University. Johnson earned a doctorate in institutional technology from SIUC’s College of Education and Human Services in 2003.