Comm. studies chair could lead academic group

by Beacon Staff • December 3, 2008

Richard West, chair of the Communication Studies Department, has been nominated to lead the National Communication Association as president when the position opens in 2011. If elected, he says he would keep his post at Emerson.

West will be in competition with one other nominee, Mary Lee Hummert of The University of Kansas, for the presidency of the group, a trade organization of communication scholars.

"One of the biggest things [I would want to do] is to bring all members on board for what NCA can do for them," West said in an interview. "A lot of members don't have a voice, so it's a matter of cranking up the volume."

Voting is scheduled to take place this summer by the group's members.

The NCA counts more than 7,700 educators, practitioners and students in its ranks, and is the nation's largest and oldest national communication academic group, according to its Web site.

The association provides a forum and professional community for students of communication. West said the NCA also brings young professionals faster into the industry and can help mid-career professors like himself to remain fresh and focused.

The NCA also publishes 10 journals in addition to holding four regional conferences where academics can present their research.

West and his opponent Hummert will address the membership at the four regional conferences before the vote takes place, allowing the large and far-reaching amalgam of academics to hear the two candidate's positions and plans.

The four conferences will take place in Mesa, Ariz., St. Louis, Mo., Norfolk, Va. and Philadelphia, Pa.

The NCA offers a structured and elongated election process. This year's elected nominee will not take the office of the president for two years; the winner spends two years at two different vice president positions before ascending to the top office for one year.

Hummert said in a telephone interview she has not yet begun thinking about the process or preparing her agenda to present to the association.

Arthur Bochner, current president of the NCA, said in a telephone interview he thought Richard West was a qualified candidate for the position, and the position would bode well for the college.

"Emerson has of course a long history and tradition in oral communication," Bochner said. "This would be good for Emerson in so far that one of its faculty members would be associated with the high office."