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QUESTIONS FROM A Univ of Rhode Island STUDENT JOURNALIST:
How long have you had this job? I arrived on January 1, 2012 as Professor and Founding Director of the Harrington School of Communication and Media.
What do you do? I lead the faculty to build a school of regional, national and global distinction through advancing innovation in curriculum renewal, making real-world learning an integral part of every student’s experience, and attracting the best students and faculty to become part of our vibrant community. We’re challenging you to think, create and communicate.
What are some other jobs you’ve had? Previous to coming to URI, I was a Professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, in the School of Communication and Media there. I continue to be the Founder of the Media Education Lab, which is my research lab where I improve the practice of media literacy through scholarship and community service. You can see the many digital media projects that I have created as a scholar, media professional, and activist here (www.mediaeducationlab.com).
What is your favorite aspect of your job? I like working with graduate and undergraduate students, helping faculty to develop innovative academic programs, and meeting people in the community and around the world who could benefit from access to our talented students. I also love analyzing media, creating media, and bringing talented people together to unleash human creativity with digital media texts, tools and technologies.
What is one thing you would change about URI? I wish there was a regular branded URI bus that went up and down Route 95 to connect Kingston to Providence so students and faculty could make better use of the terrific CCE campus. That would also help us support the business community in Providence. I also wish we had a more vibrant retail scene here on campus with a conference center and shopping so that we could attract people to spend time on main campus to hang out our students and faculty. I would like to have a Starbucks in Davis Hall. When the State of Connecticut developed the retail services near the Storrs campus, the applications to that university went way up.
What do you see for the future of the Harrington School of Communications and Media? As we move forward, we’ll see new majors, new faculty, and new courses. We’ll be exploiting the connections between programs and disciplines. Students will have increased opportunities to work on real-world projects that involve their public speaking, writing and creative skills, creating messages that inform, entertain and persuade. They’ll use language, sound, images and digital media for expression and communication, working as members of a creative team. And most importantly, students and faculty will feel inspired by Dick Harrington’s vision: to make communication strategy an essential part of everything we do.
What was the most important event or defining moment of your life?  My research and scholarship is tied to advocacy as I aim to bring media literacy education to all 70 million children and young people in American public schools. For this reason, one important event in my life was working with a team to create a national membership organization for media literacy– the National Association for Media Literacy Education — namle.net. This experience crystallized my appreciation for the power and influence of creative and collaborative teams.
Another thrilling experience was winning the Golden Cable ACE Award, walking the red carpet in Los Angeles and meeting celebrities like Leonard Nimoy and the Fonz, accepting the award on stage with the President of the Discovery Channel for the media literacy initiative I developed, which was called KNOW TV.

How would you complete the following sentence: “The thing most people would find interesting about me is …?” FACE-TO-FACE…my energy level and ONLINE …my Twittering @reneehobbs

So all the sciences are getting the beautiful buildings and the funding why are all the journalism/PR/medias so old and sad looking? The Harrington School of Communication and Media is just now becoming something that the University is beginning to invest in, thanks to leadership from distinguished business leader and URI alum, Dick Harrington. Wait until January 2015, when we move into the soon-to-be-renovated Ranger Hall, and then you’ll see our lovely new space! And that’s just the beginning, because with 1,700 creative and hard-working students, we’re going to be a key part of URI’s phenomenal future!

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