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School of Communications announces leadership appointments

The School of Communications on Wednesday announced the appointments of two associate deans, with associate professors Don Grady and Kenn Gaither assuming their new responsibilities on June 1. Associate professor Jessica Gisclair will succeed Grady as the school’s department chair.

From left: Don Grady, Kenn Gaither and Jessica Gisclair

Dean Paul Parsons announced the appointments based on an internal application process and substantive faculty/staff conversations following the selection earlier this year of current associate dean Connie Book as associate provost for academic affairs. The Communications faculty voted to remain a holistic school with a single department chair and to add an associate dean rather than create multiple departments.

“We work well as a holistic school, and Don Grady, Kenn Gaither and Jessica Gisclair are terrific individuals with leadership talents that complement one another,” Parsons said. “They have the spirit of innovation that makes the School of Communications special, and their appointments also ensure continuity of our learning-centered mission.”

Grady came to Elon in 1985, twice serving extended terms as department chair (1987-93 and 2004-present) and serving as chair of Academic Council. He earned his bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University and his master’s and doctorate degrees from UNC Chapel Hill. Grady has 10 years of professional experience in radio and television. He recently authored a book chapter in Assessing Media Education, received a National Association of Broadcasters research grant, and currently is on a research sabbatical.

As an associate dean, Grady will focus primarily on internal administrative matters such as course enrollment management, the school’s upcoming accreditation self-study, assessment of student learning, teaching enhancement and evaluation, school events and special guests, the internship and career services programs, student appeals, adjunct budgets, internal and external reports, the school’s undergraduate research journal, and faculty mentoring.

Gaither joined the Elon faculty in 2004 and has directed the Communications Fellows program the past four years. He has bachelor’s degree and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh, eight years of professional experience with public relations and communications agencies, and a doctorate as a Park Scholar at UNC Chapel Hill.

Gaither has authored two books, International Public Relations and Building a Nation’s Image on the World Wide Web, as well as book chapters and scholarly articles. In 2008, he served as executive dean for Semester at Sea.

Gaither’s role as an associate dean will focus primarily on school programs and relationships such as Elon in Los Angeles, Elon in New York, North Carolina Open Government Coalition, liaison to student media and Television Services, learning community, alumni advisory board, Lumen and Pericles programs, faculty mentoring, and oversight of Communications Fellows, Live Oak Communications, Cinelon, elondocs, and the Imagining the Internet Center.

Gisclair came to Elon in 2000 and has served the past year as associate department chair in the School of Communications. She earned her undergraduate degree from Nicholls State University in Louisiana, a master’s degree from Southern Mississippi, and her law degree from the University of Toledo College of Law. Before coming to Elon, Gisclair worked in both corporate and nonprofit communications and taught for eight years at Ohio Northern and Rowan University.

She has published and presented research on such topics as social media and intellectual property in China.

As department chair, Gisclair will handle course scheduling, teaching assignments, hiring and evaluating adjunct faculty, student advising and registration, academic integrity cases, departmental course-reassignment requests, FR&D and other faculty applications, course and curriculum development, and faculty mentoring.

All three represented Elon as visiting professors at Southeast University in Nanjing, China, and all have received major faculty awards in the School of Communications: Grady as recipient of the 2005 Faculty Excellence Award in Leadership, Gaither as recipient of the 2007 Faculty Excellence Award in Scholarship, and Gisclair as recipient of the 2007 Faculty Excellence Award in Leadership.

Eric Townsend,
4/7/2010 5:30 PM