The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Potential college dean rallies support

As CSUN prepares to hire a new dean of the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media and Communications, Bonnie Brennen, the first of three candidates, talked about her past experience and future goals for CSUN.

Brennen has educational and employment experience in corporate communications and said more media attention and a stronger inter-departmental relationship could raise awareness of the Mike Curb College in the community.

“The college is doing good things, and it should use the local media and community leaders (to) shed light on its varying departments,” Brennen said. “I’ve been an alum for while but don’t hear much about college.”

Brennen has administrative experience as the chair and vice provost of faculty affairs at Temple University.

“At Temple, we worked with other departments and met with the president daily to discuss issues and brainstorm,” Brennen said. “My approach is not unilateral.”

Brennen said she will maintain an open door policy, and will speak with faculty as well as students about their concerns in order to gain their feedback.

“After all, we are here for the students,” Brennen said.

If offered the dean’s position, Brennen would oversee several departments, including Cinema and Television Arts, Communication Studies, Journalism, Music and Theater.

“I want to bring departments together. I’m not a micromanager,” Brennen said.

Brennen said her experience at a variety of institutions has helped her understand academic and budgetary issues.

Due to cutbacks in funding, the Mike Curb College has tight finances.

“I think anyone who is dean needs to be aware of the college’s financial problems and know how to deal with them,” said Linda Bowen, CSUN assistant professor of journalism, after the meeting.

Brennen said she is comfortable handling big budgets and trusts her former experience will guide her through tough financial situations.

Brennen said her general approach is to raise money, as opposed to cutting the budget.

She acknowledged she couldn’t please everyone.

“I’m not a yes (person). I have a background in teaching ethics and am trained in dealing with ethical dilemmas and many times resolutions are a compromised position,” Brennen said.

“The dean’s role is to be an advocate for the college. The role (needs someone to) inform people of upper management and administrative decisions and activities,” Brennen said.

Communication studies associate professor Kathryn Sorrells said Brennen’s background in research and ethics could be helpful, but said she would have preferred to hear more about academic matters and support for classes.

“I would want to know how they plan to maintain and further increase student education,” Sorrells said.

In regard to the potential faculty strike, Brennen would not divulge her opinion, but said she considers “open communication as a problem-solving tool.”

She also focused on faculty retention in her open interview.

“It’s one thing to hire faculty but if there’s no relationship they’ll want to leave,” she said. “They have to be embraced as part of a community.”

“I liked her positivity and the win-win attitude,” said Karen Sabbah, a dean’s office clerk. “It shows she’s people-oriented, not task-oriented.”

Brennen called herself a media historian and also referred to this part of her job, which involves research, as her passion.

As a self-proclaimed “media historian,” Brennen said allocating “funding for faculty members to do research” would be one of her goals.

Brennen said the beginning stages of the vice provost position offered her greatest challenges. The position had a reputation for being so challenging that her colleagues had a pool on how long it would take her to quit. “One offered to cut me a deal (of the winnings) if I would quit that day,” she said.

After working for more than a decade at corporate jobs, she decided to enter the academic world for more stability when her family began to grow.

Brennen decided to check her native state for new options.

“I’m a California girl and all my family lives here,” she said, explaining that this would be a natural move for her career after Temple University.

Brennen received her bachelor’s degree in journalism at CSUN, and was the editor of the Daily Sundial in 1974.

As a CSUN alumna, Brennen said she wants to “give back” and help maintain the college while contributing to its growth.

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