New mass media chair wants to take department international


Faculty and students welcome Barbara DeSanto to Washburn University as she assumes the position of chair for the mass media department.

The position’s responsibilities include overseeing staff and providing a vision for the department. A committee consisting of mass media professors; Mark Peterson, chair of the Political Science Department; a KTWU employee; and a student evaluated candidates for Mass Media chair.

Kathy Menzie, chair of the selection committee, did not consider the selection process a difficult one. She said DeSanto was a real asset to the department as well as the university.

“[She] spoke knowledgeably about Washburn University by taking the time to learn about the Transformational Experience and everything Washburn has to offer,” said Menzie.

“Dr. Barb,” as she prefers to be called, has extensive prior experience in international and domestic public relations. She gained teaching experience in the United Kingdom, where she created undergraduate and graduate seminars and taught graduate level courses at Manchester Metropolitan University’s business school. Before coming to Washburn, the University of North Carolina Charlotte benefited from her endeavors to build on the master’s program there and create international and domestic public relations curricula and courses.

As mass media chair, DeSanto’s philosophy is to think big. She intends to help faculty develop the cutting-edge curriculum needed in today’s society.

“To achieve this goal, providing resources for a converged and integrated environment is necessary,” said DeSanto.

It is her hope that offering students this kind of educational experience will make Washburn University graduates top choices for employers. Ideas for establishing international exchange programs through her contacts in Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and New Zealand will provide even more opportunities for students to enhance their knowledge from the classroom with international insight.

DeSanto carefully considered Washburn’s unique strengths when she accepted the chair position. She was confident that the mass media department and the university had lots of potential and a strong, diverse faculty.

“The staff all works toward the same thing-the good of the students,” said DeSanto.

Location, small class sizes, and the appropriate environment for individualized attention were other aspects that she appreciated.

Such enthusiasm should be contagious in her classroom. This semester, DeSanto is teaching Intro to Mass Media and making available independent studies and internships. When asked to describe herself, she admitted to being a curious person with a variety of interests. DeSanto’s intriguing personality is fueled by her desire to learn, as well as her dedication to and involvement in public relations and mass media.

Bruce Mactavish, history professor and Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, undertook all responsibilities of chair for the mass media department, during the position’s two-year vacancy.