August 10, 2009

Four join Mass Communication-Media Arts faculty

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Four new faculty members will join the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts this fall.

Gary P. Kolb, dean of the college, said he is pleased with what the new faculty will bring to students.

“Several of them have proven teaching records,” he said. “They are opening up areas of curriculum that students are going to be interested in, or reinforcing areas we already have that we know are strong for us. The students are winners here, and I think each of the departments is, as well.”

The new faculty members in the School of Journalism are:

Kavita Karan, associate professor.

Karan’s area of teaching is advertising, and she looks extensively at the effectiveness of health communications in disseminating information. Kolb said he is hopeful Karan is able to generate research proposals for federal grants related to health communication.

Karan has more than 25 years teaching and administrative experience. She comes to SIUC from WKW School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where she was an assistant professor.

Karan earned her doctorate from the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London. She earned a master’s in philosophy from Osmania University, Hyderabad, India, in 1988, and a master’s in communication and journalism, also from Osmania University, in 1981. She earned bachelor’s degrees in communication and science from Osmania University in 1980, and in home science from A.P. Agricultural University, Hyderabad, India, in 1978.

Aaron S. Veenstra, assistant professor.

Veenstra’s area of teaching is new media practice.

Veenstra’s background includes working as a network and Web specialist, and he’s held professional positions at television and radio stations. He has also worked as a teaching assistant in the University of Wisconsin’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Veenstra will earn his doctorate in mass communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison this summer. He earned his master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005, and a bachelor’s degree in scientific and technical communication from Michigan Technical University in 1997.

Wenjing (Wendy) Xie, assistant professor.

Xie’s area of teaching is new media theory. She specializes in how people use mobile media -- such as iPods, BlackBerrys, and other hand-held devices -- to communicate, get information and provide entertainment. She will look at how people utilize these new technologies to shape their lives, and how that changes what media makers, particularly journalists, are doing, Kolb said.

Xie’s background includes work as a newspaper reporter and television reporter and editor in Beijing, China, and as a teaching assistant and research assistant. Xie completed her doctorate earlier this year in communication technology from the University of Maryland-College Park School of Journalism. She earned a master of philosophy degree from Hong Kong Baptist University School of Communication in 2005. She earned a master’s degree in journalism from Renmin University of China in 2003, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Shandong University in 2001.

The new member in the Department of Cinema and Photography is:

Robert J. Spahr, assistant professor.

Spahr’s area of teaching is digital media. A freelance computer artist, Spahr’s varied background includes work in the theater, film and video. His teaching experience includes as lecturer in graphic design and new media at State University of New York, Purchase College; and adjunct assistant professor at University of the Arts, Hartford Art School, and Dowling College.

Spahr describes himself on his Web site as “visual artist and educator, who produces computational art using generative and procedural processes; digital and analog images; objects; live art, and time-based media.”

Spahr earned his bachelor’s degree from the Art Academy of Cincinnati in 1988, and a master of fine arts degree from Parson’s School of Design in New York in 1991.