Communications Advisory Board aligns spring visit with dedication celebration 

Fifteen board members and guests visited campus on March 31 to share their professional insight and commemorate the completion of the school’s expansion project.

Elon alumnus Douglas Williams ’13 (left) and his father, Brian, share a light-hearted moment during their March 31 conversation in Associate Professor Anthony Hatcher’s “Journalism in a Free Society” class. 
​In a day filled with celebration – namely, the formal dedication ceremony of its new and renovated facilities – the School of Communications also welcomed 15 members and guests of its Communications Advisory Board on March 31.

During their daylong visit, the board members shared their professional expertise with faculty and students, discussed trends in their respective industries, and led conversations in a dozen classes across the school’s curriculum. Among those in attendance were honorary board chair Brian Williams and his son, Douglas ’13, who spoke with Associate Professor Anthony Hatcher’s “Journalism in a Free Society” class.

For more photos of the board’s visit, check out the school’s Flickr page.

The MSNBC breaking news anchor’s presence drew a large audience, with even a few onlookers eavesdropping from outside the classroom. Early on, the renowned newsman deferred to his son, an anchor on SportsNet New York, who led the conversation detailing the value of Elon’s student media organizations, his own internship experiences, and the benefits of seeking out difficult courses and challenging professors.

The discussion eventually swung to the elder Williams’ own career path, how he remains objective, the 2016 election night, and his thoughts on today’s media climate.

Ann Camden, senior vice president of G&S Business Communications, dropped by Lecturer Randy Piland’s “Corporate Publishing” class during the Communications Advisory Board’s campus visit.  
​While peppering in humor with a deadpan delivery, Williams recalled his meager beginnings, driving a Dodge Dart and earning just $173 a week – noting the sum was “burned in his psyche.” Those early days reporting in Pittsburg, Kansas, and other stops prepared him for his next roles, he noted.

Despite the claims of media bias today, Williams expressed optimism for his field, referencing the rise in subscriptions for both The New York Times and The Washington Post.

“When people tell us we are fake news, we’ll continue to do real news,” he added later. “For the brave, (this is) a terrific era for genuine journalism.”

In other nearby classrooms, fellow board members also discussed topics and trends relating to the communications and news industries. Among the highlights were Julie Carey of NBC News4 in Washington, D.C, discussing digital reach and insights; Thomas Collamore of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce talking about stakeholders and audiences; and Ann Camden of G&S Business Communications highlighting online publishing.

Prior to the classroom talks, Communications Dean Paul Parsons met with board members to discuss the school’s new five-year strategic plan, inviting their perspective on key priorities.

With members of the Communications Advisory Board looking on, Communications Dean Paul Parsons leads a discussion during a morning meeting in the second-floor conference room in Dwight C. Schar Hall.
​In the afternoon, the board met again for a luncheon in the new Jane and Brian Williams Studio, which included an address from President Leo M. Lambert, and for a second brainstorming session with the dean.

Board members who participated in the spring meeting were:

Karen Albritton, president and CEO of Capstrat, an integrated communications agency based in Raleigh

Jeff Blumb, a partner at Nation Consulting, a Wisconsin-based public strategies firm

Roger Bolton, president of the Arthur W. Page Society, the professional association for senior public relations and corporate communications executives

Ann Camden, senior vice president of G&S Business Communications, an independent public relations agency based in New York City with offices in Raleigh

Julie Carey, northern Virginia bureau chief, NBC News4 in Washington, D.C.

Thomas J. Collamore, senior vice president of communications and strategy and counselor to the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Tim Franklin, president of The Poynter Institute, a journalism education and training center in St. Petersburg, Florida

MJ Jacobsen, former vice president of communications for the National Geographic Society

Lecturer Hal Vincent (left) snaps a photograph of School of Communications Fellows posing with Brian and Douglas ’13 Williams following the advisory board luncheon.
Bill Kanarick, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Publicis.Sapient, a global marketing and technology services company

Sunshine Overkamp, chairman of Overkamp Overkamp-Smith, a consulting firm in Atlanta

Lee Rainie, director of internet, science and technology research for the Pew Research Center

Craig Waller, former president at Pace Communications, a global content marketing agency based in Greensboro

Ken White, news director at WOWK-TV, a CBS affiliate in Charleston–Huntington, West Virginia

Brian Williams (honorary chair), anchor of breaking news and special reports for MSNBC

Norby Williamson, executive vice president for production, program scheduling and development at ESPN headquarters in Connecticut

Invited guest:

Ken Litwin, director of business administration for CNN in New York City