Communication dean heads back to the classroom

David Jaffe chats with students in the broadcasting television studio.

After 17 years as dean of the Eugene M. and Christine E. Lynn College of Communication and Design (formerly known as the College of International Communication), David Jaffe will pursue his original passion at Lynn University: teaching.

Beginning in Fall 2019, he will return to a full-time faculty role, focusing on subjects ranging from journalism to emerging media.

Jaffe joined Lynn in August 2001, after returning to the U.S. following a four-year stint with his wife and children in Israel working in high-tech communications. The move to Israel occurred after retiring from the University of Oklahoma as emeritus professor of journalism and mass communication.

Once settled in South Florida, he joined Lynn’s College of International Communication and worked with former NBC-TV correspondent Irving R. Levine, the college’s founding dean. Shortly thereafter, he was asked to serve as associate dean and two years later, following Levine’s retirement, was appointed dean. He agreed to take it on for a year or so.

Seventeen years later …

Under Jaffe’s leadership, the college increased its emphasis on experiential learning and emerging media technology to equip students with broad-based skills for successful media careers in a world of evolving media. Over the years, the college grew from one full-time faculty member (Jaffe) to 28 full-time faculty, five staff and several adjunct faculty.

After Lynn’s acquisition of the Digital Media Arts College in October 2017, he helped integrate DMAC students, faculty and academic programs into the expanded and renamed College of Communication and Design.

“It has always been my plan to teach,” he said. Now that the integration of DMAC is complete, he felt the time was right.

Jaffe shares his journey as dean, the evolution of the college and vision for the future in this Q&A:

How has the college changed over the years, especially now that it has acquired DMAC?

It was originally called the College of International Studies, since Levine was originally known for his foreign reporting. Because the focus was on journalism and communication, the word “studies” was dropped and replaced with communication soon afterward. Our academic programs emphasize teaching students how to create content for the mass media. The college expanded dramatically in several areas: film and TV; advertising, social media and public relations, and design and graphic arts with DMAC being a good fit for students whose creativity is more visually focused.

How has Lynn’s communication program distinguished itself from other schools?

1) Our focus is on experiential learning or learning by doing, a component in all of our undergraduate majors and minors;

2) iPulse became a daily print publication and also took advantage of advancing technology for online delivery of video; and

3) We incorporated emerging technology in media into all our programs.

Lynn students will soon benefit from your considerable professional, academic and administrative experience. What does the return to teaching mean to you?

Being dean is not what brought me into academe, rather it was the dynamic of teaching. So I’m looking forward to teaching again. I’ll be stepping into a world with a greater emphasis on documenting the achievement of student learning outcomes and working with more sophisticated classroom management systems. But I’ll do what I did before, upgraded with newer technology. And it gives me an opportunity to massage ideas and see where they lead, an important component in the academy.

What does the future hold?

We’re teaching not just for today, but for tomorrow. Virtual reality is the next significant media-related frontier. The New York Times already has VR news stories. Imagine a journalist reporting, say, from a war zone with a 360-degree view. That will mark a change in journalism, just as radio and then TV changed journalism. Changes like that affect the way we interpret the world.

What advice would you give to your successor?

Stick with your vision and recognize the importance of shared governance within the college. It’s important to weave ideas that are generated by faculty and staff into that overall vision, ideas that will benefit students. Also, stay focused on academics.

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