NOVEMBER 21, 1997 VOL. 14, NO. 17
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Richard Nelson, associate dean for graduate studies and research in the Manship School of Mass Communication, spends much of his day working with and trying to help graduate students "achieve their goals."

A day in the life: Richard Nelson, associate dean, Mass Communication

As he warmly greets the students who knock on his door, Richard Nelson tells of his commitment to "helping students achieve their goals."

Nelson began his day on Nov. 7 at 6:20 a.m. with the "Breakfast Club," a group of LSU Mass Communication faculty and spouses who meet every Friday morning at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant. "We discuss all kinds of things," Nelson said. "We talk about news, politics, business at school, computers and other personal interests."

When the associate dean for graduate studies and research of the Manship School of Mass Communication arrived at his office at 7:45 a.m., he checked his e-mail and other messages. He posted a notice to the Manship School faculty and responded to the requests of two potential students for information on the Mass Communication graduate program.

Upon request of the Department of Communication at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, Nelson then confirmed that he would chair a session on book publishing at the Fifth Annual Louisiana Communication Mini-Conference. Nelson has recently written a book entitled Propaganda: A Reference Guide, which is the second in a three-book series on propaganda that will be published next year.

At 8 a.m., he met with Helen Taylor, counselor for the Manship School, to add a graduate student to a closed section of a core course. Then he answered a phone call from Mike Kabel, a faculty member from the Department of Mass Communications at Southern University.

Kabel will be teaching a course at LSU in the spring. He and Nelson decided to meet on Monday to tour the lab facilities that will be used for MC 7008, Public Relations Programming and Production. This exchange serves as part of the continuing effort to enhance collaboration in mass communication between the two institutions.

At approximately 8:30 a.m., Nelson had a discussion with the chair of a search committee for an endowed chair position about a potential candidate. He then opened the locked laboratories in the Manship School and congratulated a faculty member for completing an article for submission to a journal. As associate dean, Nelson is responsible for promoting research among the faculty.

Later that morning, he wrote a "thank you" letter to Reader's Digest Foundation for a $1,000 mini-grant award that was given to the Manship School. The award will be used to pay the travel expenses of student journalists who must travel to complete their stories.

Nelson began going through the "seven inches of morning mail" that covered his desk at approximately 9:30 a.m. "All of that mail includes many professional magazines added to the Manship School's reading room collection," he said.

Nelson then finalized the review of a student survey project to ensure that it conformed with the policies of the Office of Sponsored Research Human Subjects Review Committee.

At 9:45 a.m., he had an appointment with an undergraduate student to discuss her entrance into graduate school. They discussed graduate-level credit for seniors and the accelerated master's options.

His next meeting was with a Taiwanese student who is currently studying at the University of New Orleans. They discussed the transfer requirements for her to enter the graduate program at LSU, and Nelson gave her a tour of the Manship School facilities.

Nelson spends much of his day working with and trying to help graduate students. Today he spent some time writing a letter of invitation for a well-known Mexican journalist to visit LSU, at no cost to the University, at the request of some of his master's students.

After lunch, Nelson prepared for a meeting of the Graduate Admissions and Assistantships Committee. He serves as chair of the committee. At the meeting, which was held at 2 p.m., the committee reviewed the spring applicants for admission to the graduate program.

"We've been very effective at building awareness of our graduate program," he said. "We've gone from 34 students two years ago to more than 90 students now. When you get to 90 students, that places a strain on the faculty. So, we've raised the bar again for admissions. That means only the 'creme de la creme' of students will get into the program."

After his committee meeting, Nelson went back to the task of going through the mail that had collected on his desk. "Sometimes I think that desk has a life of its own," he said. "I'm an information magnet. One of the new problems of the world is information overload."

While his primary responsibilities are administrating the graduate program and promoting research, Nelson is also teaching two classes this semester. He also serves as president of the International Academy of Business Disciplines.

Late in the afternoon, he was back on the telephone and Internet preparing for the IABD 10th annual meeting, which will be held next April in San Francisco.

"The academy has grown to nearly 500 members, serving as a distinctive global interdisciplinary forum for professionals, policymakers and faculty in business schools, communication programs and other social science departments to exchange ideas and research results," he said.

After making those preparations, Nelson finished a review of an article submitted to IABD's quarterly International Journal of Commerce and Management.

Nelson's day ended with a special dinner at Ralph & Kacoo's. Ten journalists and technologists from Africa were at LSU participating in a training program sponsored by the U.S. government. "We do this regularly at the Manship School under the direction of Dr. Louis Day, our international coordinator," Nelson said.

"Normally, I would also be teaching one of the sessions," he said. "However, given my hectic schedule, we were fortunate to be able to draw upon the expertise of a great group of new faculty with high-level computer backgrounds.

"This time my wife and I had the fun part of socializing with the visitors from Africa," he said. "We have this large cultural geography book with information on every country. Whenever we meet international guests, we ask them to sign the book, write something about their country and correct any factual errors in the book. They always enjoy that part, and we learn something new."

-Allison Michael