A Q & A with New SCM Director, Dr. Keith Strudler

Meet Dr. Keith Strudler, the new director for the School of Communication and Media.  In this question and answer, Dr. Strudler discusses his vision and plans to expand the school’s educational footprint. 

Strudler, who joined Montclair in August, brings a passionate commitment to developing new programs at SCM and continuing to expand the school’s resources over time—making it one day, in his words, the “winning team.”

What excited you the most about the prospect of becoming the director for the school?

I think it was the combination of growing programs, faculty that seem really interested in coalescing around collaboration, and obviously the potential of our new building seems almost unlimited. Add that to all the opportunities of being at a growing university so close to New York City. It just seems like there was an incredible opportunity for growth.

Were there any anxieties about taking the position?

Of course. I mean first of all, anytime you move into a new position there is always some anxiety, particularly when you’ve been in a job like I had for 17 years. That’s longer than some of the incoming students have been alive! So, sure, there was some apprehension, and I enjoyed my last job, too. I was good at it. But as I’ve been told, if you’re not nervous or apprehensive about the job you’re moving into, it’s not the right job for you. You should always be a little uptight about whether or not you can do it because that means you’re stretching yourself.

What mark do you hope to make on the school’s mission?

I don’t know that I see this job as me making a particular mark, but really, what I hope we can accomplish is to create some signature programs, particularly those that operate outside the curriculum. I’d like to bring in more outside partners; I’d like to grow our curriculum and look into some new curricular areas. I think those are a few things. And I’d like to increase the brand awareness of the school and the university. There is so much going on here, and I think we need to really figure out how to make sure people understand what happens here.

What new initiatives do you hope to introduce to the school?

We are certainly looking at a center for sports media and communications. I’d love to look at an advertising program because, in my opinion, it’s a natural fit for us. I think I’d like to down the line start to examine ways we can grow the graduate program and expand. And eventually, I’d like to see more where we can look at new and emerging technologies as part of our discipline.

What is your vision for the School of Communication and Media?

The vision really is that we are going to be a place that collaboratively produces great content and that envelops a wide array of disciplines and constructs. Everything from media and television to radio, to film, to public relations campaigns, and to research. We are going to be a place that really produces thoughtful content.

What’s your 10 second elevator pitch for : the media, the prospective and current students, alumnus involvement, and the lure for possible donors ?

Wow, thats a good question. I don’t know that I have a 10 second speech cause I talk so long that it’s hard for me to do 10 seconds. I suppose if I could, my ten seconds pitch would be: We have incredible facilities, engaging faculty with incredible experience; we have bright and eager students; we are in a optimal location, and we have an enormous opportunity for growth and so, all we really need is more support from people like those that I’ll be in the elevator with whether its donors, alumni,… We need them, and so this is a good time to kind of jump on the train and be a part of what I think is going to be a winning team. 

Were there any surprises about the school—either facilities, faculty/staff, or students—awaiting you upon beginning your new position ?

I don’t think really so. I mean there are always surprises when you start a new job but I’ve been in academia long enough to know that nothing really is all that surprising. There are never quite enough resources, there are always issues to deal, with but for the most part no, I think it’s a lot of what I expected.

If you had to pick one, what would be your greatest professional achievement?

Really, I think building the sports communication program at Marist. I think that’s a very broad achievement because it encompasses a lot of elements, but just growing that program enhanced the brand of not only the university, but gained a national reputation for the school as well. I think that’s really something I'm really proud of.

How do you juggle all your responsibilities?

Not well. Just keep working. I’m a big fan of keep putting one foot in front of the other so it’s organized chaos for lack of a better way of putting it. Some people are just incredibly detail oriented and organized, but that’s not me. I get things done by keeping on going.

Describe yourself in three words.

Excited, interested, and I would say funny.