By Taylor Provost
“It’s a big puzzle that I don’t have all the answers to yet,” Dr. Jay Martinson, Chair of the Communication Department, said in response to departmental changes soon to take place.
While Martinson is not certain what specific changes are in store for the Communication Department, he said he is certain that the changes will be positive. With the addition of Dr. Heather Attig, Mark Bishop’s replacement, the return of Mark Bishop, and, most recently, the resignation of Dr. Emily Lamb Normand, the department is in the process of growing and expanding.
Lamb Normand’s resignation is simply a result of three children and a 45-minute daily commute, Martinson said. She found a job in her hometown at Lewis University, which Martinson called “a perfect fit for her.”
“While I was not actively seeking to leave Olivet, accepting the position at Lewis University allows my family the opportunity to live and work in the same community where our children will attend school. This has been a growing concern of mine as my children start school and get involved in extracurricular activities,” Lamb Normand said.
“Although I’m excited for the changes the move [to Lewis University] will bring, I am also incredibly sad to leave such a supportive and dynamic group of people: faculty, staff, and students alike. I feel so blessed to have been a part of the Department of Communication here at Olivet. They have helped me to become a better teacher, thinker, leader, follower, and friend,” she said.
“We [Communication Department] are happy for her, but upset because she’s leaving; she’s been here for seven years,” Martinson said. “This is why it gets weird – she [Lamb Normand] isn’t being replaced,” he said. “But what does that mean with my classes? What do I have to drop?” Martinson asked.
Martinson said that the distribution of Lamb Normand’s classes amongst the other professors is still being figured out, but that Bishop’s return, while unrelated to Lamb Normand’s resignation, is “perfect timing.”
“It’s apples and oranges, though,” Martinson said of Bishop and Lamb Normand. The two communication professors do not have the same skills; Bishop’s return does not replace Lamb Normand. His return will, however, help “lighten the load” between Martinson, Attig, Dr. Thalyta Swanepoel, and Prof. Carl Fletcher, who collectively form the department’s Multimedia team, affectionately dubbed by Martinson as “The Dream Team.”
Bishop agreed with Martinson.
“I especially missed my colleagues in ONU’s communication department. We have a very unique team who feels more like a family than co-workers,” Bishop said. “The curriculum in ONU’s communication department is top notch, and I knew I needed to get back to the program I helped build for so many years.”
After Martinson met with Attig and Bishop, the three decided that this upcoming fall semester, Bishop will teach Scriptwriting for Multimedia, which Attig currently teaches but Bishop previously taught, because that is a strength of his. Bishop will also teach Television News; “that’s his specialty, not her specialty,” Martinson said.
“It’s a toss-up; they’re both so strong,” Martinson said of Attig and Bishop. “When we had just Mark Bishop, we had a really good program here, but we only had one person [for Television classes]. We only had one perspective and we recognized that there were drawbacks to that,” he said. “We had always hoped that we could add a second [professor], and so now with Attig and Bishop, we’ve got that.”
Martinson said he told the Communication Department what this fall will look like in regards to classes offered, but he said more concrete planning on curriculum changes will not happen until the fall when the whole Multimedia team can meet and decide what should change; “they’ve all got to be a part of that decision.”
“I’ve told them all, ‘hold on, fasten your seatbelts, come fall, we need to get our heads together and just imagine what this department could look like,’” Martinson said. “I don’t think we just need to split [classes] up and go from there; we need to take a broader look at curriculum review and ask ‘what can this department look like now that we’ve got Mark here and lost Emily?’ Let’s make the best of this.”
While there are no major curriculum changes the upcoming semester, Martinson anticipates departmental change over time.
Communication students Sam Steiber, junior, and Austin Siscoe, freshman, expressed their thoughts on the department’s near future.
“I don’t know Bishop yet, but I’m really excited as they plan to expand the department,” Siscoe said. “It’ll really help out some of my classmates, too.”
“I’ve really loved getting to know Dr. Attig this semester and I think she’s a great teacher, but I’m also really excited that Prof. Bishop is coming back. I think the two of them will be able to work really well together and make the Multimedia program even stronger,” Steiber said.
Bishop’s excitement for returning to Olivet is evident, as well.
“Olivet has been such a big part of my family’s life for the past 12 years,” Bishop said. “While we knew it would be tough to leave our home in Bourbonnais [last year], we didn’t factor in just how much we would miss family and friends that had become so important to us over the years.”
Bishop said that while Nashville is a “great city to live in” and “Trevecca [University] was very welcoming to us, our soul searching soon confirmed we were right where we needed to be when we were in Bourbonnais. We didn’t want to wait three or four years to act on it so we decided to come back as soon as possible.”
While Bishop is eager to start fall semester back at Olivet, he said he does not regret anything about “the past year’s events.”
“God confirmed to me more than ever where I need to be and what I need to be doing. I’m especially grateful to Dr. Jay Martinson, Dr. Dennis Crocker, and Dr. Houston Thompson for giving me the chance to return,” Bishop said. His family hopes to move back in June.
“We just feel so blessed,” Martinson said. “We don’t [want to] bring [Bishop] here and then just remain status quo; we want this resulting in departmental growth. We want what’s going to be best for the students.”