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2 candidates selected for chair

Nov. 6, 1997

By Kelly Maher

Assistant city editor for The Baylor Lariat

The fall 1996 removal of Dr. Michael Bishop as journalism chair by President Robert B. Sloan Jr. left the department with a prestigious hole to fill. After several months of sorting through applications and interviewing, the selection committee has narrowed the search down to two candidates, Dr. Doug Ferdon, acting chair of the journalism department, and Dr. Don Lattimore, head of the University of Memphis journalism department. The final decision has been placed in the hands of the administration and ultimately Sloan.

The selection committee is chaired by Charles Overby, president and CEO of the Freedom Forum and a Baylor University regent and Dr. Michael Korpi, professor and director of the Baylor telecommunication division. The 12-member committee is comprised of both Baylor faculty and several other well-known names outside of the university. Faculty members serving on the committee include Jerrie Callan, lecturer in English; Dr. Lee Polk, chairman of communication studies; Dr. Kyle Cole, assistant professor of journalism; Dr. Sara Stone, professor of journalism; and Dr. John Tisdale, assistant professor of journalism.

The outside members are Dave Campbell, editor of The Baylor Insider; Toby Druin, editor of The Baptist Standard; Henry Holcomb, journalist with the Philadelphia Inquirer; Jack Loftis, executive vice president and editor of the Houston Chronicle; and Hal Wingo, former assistant managing editor of People magazine and a Baylor regent.

What makes this committee unique is it utilizes a combination of both outside and inside sources. Other departments currently seeking to fill vacated positions use a committee made up of predominately Baylor faculty. According to Sloan, the reason for the diversity of the journalism committee is the circumstances surrounding his firing of Bishop and the delicacy of which this matter must be handled.

'It is not common to do that, but it's not unprecedented,' Sloan said. 'It is a professional area, and it is important to have input from those in the profession.'

The selection committee has completed their task, narrowing their choices to just two candidates. Both candidates have interviewed with members of the administration and await a final decision. Sloan said the chair selected will have his approval.

'The search committee has narrowed it down to two candidates. It is not the search committee's job to pick anyone; the real decision is the administrators to make,' Korpi said. 'Our job is finished unless the administration sees the need for us to continue the search.'

Druin and Loftis, two other members of the committee, did not feel comfortable commenting at this time, and Overby could not be reached.

The two candidates, Ferdon and Lattimore, have extensive journalism backgrounds and wish each other the best in whatever the outcome may be.

'If they choose Don Lattimore I think he will do a good job, and if they choose me, I will do my best,' Ferdon said.

Lattimore, who was contacted by Druin, is a Waco native and the head of the journalism department at the University of Memphis. He received a bachelor's in journalism from Texas Christian University and a master's in economics from TCU. He completed his Ph. D. in mass communications at the University of Wisconsin.

Lattimore commented on his desire to return to his home town and his admiration of the university.

'Baylor draws to a national audience,' Lattimore said. 'It is a leading Baptist institution and has a real quality [journalism] program that could have national impact.'

The department hopes to see a permanent chair in place soon.

'I am certainly hopeful that we'll have someone as soon as possible; the sooner the better,' Sloan said. 'Ideally it would be great to have someone by next semester.'

contributed to by Ashlee Ross, staff writer for The Baylor Lariat.

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