Ask the Dean

Dean Perlmutter

Dean David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.

If you could ask Dean Perlmutter one question, what would it be?

Dean David D. Perlmutter will periodically answer these questions posed by students in the College of Media & Communication. These questions and answers will be used to strengthen the relationship between students and the college. Questions ranging from personal questions about Dean Perlmutter to general questions about the College of Media & Communication will be accepted. The answers will be posted on the college's webpage and social media.

Click each question to reveal Dean Perlmutter's answer

Q: "Why doesn't the College of Media & Communication offer more availability to applying freshmen? (college tours, Q & A sessions, etc.)" - Barbara Garcia

Barbara Garcia
  • Name: Barbara Garcia
  • Year: Senior
  • Major: Journalism
  • Hometown: Robinson, TX

A: We do have many venues and activities for getting to know us, including that you just give us a call and we’ll set up a tour. That said, we have been hard-pressed to keep up with all the interest in our college majors from high schoolers, parents, and matriculating Tech students because of a shortage of people in the relevant offices. The good news is that we just hired an additional recruiter—one of our students! We are also planning to hire an event planner and greeter/scheduler to coordinate all the many things going on in CoMC. I hope that within a few months, after these hires, your access and opportunities to get to know us better will be faster, easier and more varied.

Q: "What made you want to be a dean instead of a professor?" - Caghan Standlee

Caghan Standlee
  • Name: Caghan Standlee
  • Year: Junior
  • Major: Advertising
  • Hometown: Lubbock, TX

A: Well, the quick answer is that I’m both a dean and still a professor. When you take on administration, you don’t necessarily give up your academic title, credentials or interests. The time you need to devote to administration, though, is pretty considerable, and you need to be able to drop whatever you’re doing if an urgent matter comes up. Not to mention that there’s quite a bit of travel involved in being a dean today. So my academic research is limited to a few longer term projects or some very short ones. As for my teaching, it’s hard for me to teach a 16-week class because I can’t predict where I’ll be from day to day. However, I’ve satisfied my love of interacting with students through the Dean’s Student Council, meetings with students individually and in groups, and above all, guest-teaching in classes. I do the last one about once a week.

As to why I became a dean: one big reason and a lot of small ones. First, I think higher education today is going through a crisis of transition. Some of the older models of curriculum, organization and funding are failing us, and we need to find new ways to adapt before the future disrupts all the good things we continue to do for students, knowledge and the country. At the same time, I love being surrounded by really smart people—students, staff, faculty—and working together to solve day-to-day problems, minor and major. My job is never repetitive; no week is the same. I always go home feeling a sense of accomplishment.

Q: "How long have you been living here?" - Melanee Brown

Melanee Brown
  • Name: Melanee Brown
  • Year: Sophomore
  • Major: Electronic Media & Communications
  • Hometown: Houston, TX

A: As of this writing (April 9), I've been in Lubbock nine months. Which sounds like a short time, but it's been jam-packed. Reckoning up meetings in the college, throughout campus, in Lubbock and around the country, I've met thousands of students, staff, faculty and alumni. What I find interesting but unsurprising is how consistent the messages I get from all of you are:

By every metric the college has done very well up to this time—growing in numbers of students, new faculty, new programs, better student services, improved technology.

But we can't take a break and coast. The media world is rapidly changing. We have to not only gauge the changes but anticipate them.

Our students will enter "communications" but should not think just in terms of working for a communications company; many of you will pursue careers in non-media companies, non-profits and government agencies that want and need effective communications.

More than ever, there is a quality imperative. We try to avail you of the best faculty and curricula, technology and staff support, but you have to really dedicate yourself to your education—the competition in the marketplace is fierce.

Sitting in class is not enough. By the time you graduate you need to have a portfolio that impresses your potential future employers. So use classes, workshops, internships, part-time jobs and the many school media outlets to build a package of material that make you stand out.

Be a one-woman band. Even if, say, you aren't that much into video, become adept in it anyway. If you are asked in a job interview, "Can you do...?" The answer must be "yes" or "some of it, and I'll learn fast."

Be a critical thinker...and more. I've never met an employer who asserted "All we care about is technology." Everybody wants to hire people for their team who can think clearly, be a leader, show a broad knowledge of culture and history, write well, visualize creatively. Lucky for you that's what Texas Tech University is all about: explore and grow.

So my nine months have been a whirlwind, but with definite lessons for me and you. Guns up!

Q: "Why are there so many prerequisites for upper-level classes?" - Raymond Festa

Raymond Festa
  • Name: Raymond Festa
  • Year: Junior
  • Major: Advertising
  • Hometown: Dallas, TX

A: In my twenty-five years in higher education I've seen many a faculty discussion about "prereqs." Here's the challenge. Obviously each class is not only intended to teach you some set of ideas or skills but also to connect or build upon other ideas and skills we hope you have learned previously. In the case of "intro" classes, we hope you have learned in high school some basics that we can then build upon. Once you are in the major it gets trickier because all of you develop and diverge at different rates. A course in "Advanced Video Production" might be pretty straightforward to a student who has been doing video since middle school and volunteering at the Double T Insider. To another student, who might be more into social media, the same course might feel tougher—that is, more advanced. So when faculty decide on prereqs it's with the goal to make sure nobody flounders with material or technique above their head.

So we are tinkering with the prereq question all the time. Faculty get a sense from teaching the class, from your grades on assignments and from your comments and evaluations on what should be the prerequisite in the future. We do change them up if we think a prereq is no longer necessary...or clearly is.

All this underscores the need for feedback from you. If you think material is too advanced and so a particular prereq is needed, or that a class really didn't need a prereq, then tell the instructor. You could also talk to your fellow students and encourage them to pass on their thoughts—to the instructor, or a department chair, or to me. It helps us know better what to do by hearing from you directly.

Guns up!

Q: "Why don't you have a meeting where students can come ask questions?" - Sha Li

Sha Li
  • Name: Sha Li
  • Year: Graduate Student
  • Major: Master of Arts, Mass Communications
  • Hometown: China

A: Hi: My father was a business management professor. He maintained that anyone who is the head of an organization struggles with getting relevant, current and accurate information about what is going on within the organization. Call it the "CEO effect" – a lot of times the higher the title you have, the more out of touch you can be because:

  • People assume you are too busy and don't want to bother you.
  • People assume that complaints won't get heard and so nothing will be accomplished.
  • People don't want to "cause trouble" by reporting trouble.
  • People don't like to report bad news to you thinking you will view them negatively (that is, "kill the messenger").

I hope we have a better situation in our College. I like to say, "I want to be the second person to know what is going wrong or going right." I meet with various student groups. We have a Dean's Student Council and Student Government representatives whose job is to reach out to our majors and relay your thoughts and advice. Our staff, faculty and other administrators regularly pass on to me what students are saying to them. And, I really, really like it when a student comes to see me in my office and shares experiences and ideas. I know it can be tough: we have nearly 1500 students, faculty and staff. I can't meet with everyone all the time. In the fall, we are going to try to hold some "Town Hall" type meeting for any major who wants to attend.

But really, I want to hear from you, so don't be shy: Come tell me what you think!

Q: "Why did you decide to become a dean at Texas Tech?" - Nicolas Rodriguez

Nicolas Rodriguez
  • Name: Nicolas Rodriguez
  • Year: Freshman
  • Major: Electronic Media & Communications
  • Hometown: Chicago, IL

A: Around this time last year I got a call from the firm handling the dean search. I was very busy and (politely) said I wasn't interested. But then I began to think about it. I had known Jerry Hudson, the former and founding Dean of the College, from our professional organizations. I had heard about the great achievements of CoMC: becoming an independent college, building a PhD program, installing new facilities like the Communications Research Center and the Hispanic and International Media Center. So when they called again, I was more receptive. Fast forward through the interview process being invited to visit the campus…and I fell in love.

The College of Media and Communication is a place blessed with productive, industrious, creative faculty and staff who deeply care about education and student success. The research facilities are the best in the nation for any communications unit. The now named Harris Center for Hispanic and International Media is renowned worldwide. We have wonderful relationships with other units on campus, especially in sciences and health, building partnerships on important projects like wind, water and disease prevention. Our alumni have been encouraging and supportive and confirm that a TTU education brings great respect from employers. I also found an entrepreneurial spirit here absent on most campuses—people in west Texas really do roll up their sleeves and ask "How can we do better?"

I was sold then and still am. I thank God every day for the privilege of working here with you.

And I like saying "Guns Up!"

Q: "Where do you see the College of Media & Communication going in 10 years?" - Grace Diana

Grace Diana
  • Name: Grace Diana
  • Year: Sophomore
  • Major: Public Relations
  • Hometown: San Antonio, TX

A: To paraphrase Hockey great Wayne Gretsky, the secret to success in his sport—and I would argue in life, business and education is to skate to where the puck in going to be, not where it is now. It's always hard and sometimes foolish to predict the future...but I see us accelerating innovation in the following areas:

Continuing to prepare students to develop many skillsets—conceptual and applied—so that they can adapt to what I am sure will be more revolutionary changes in professional media and communications.

Making sure you can thrive in any industry, not just media companies. I already see many of our senior and young alumni alike working in non-profits, government and private companies of every kind, from hospitals to the state house, from airlines to petrochemical.

I also think some of the fundamentals will not change. In 2024, being a good writer, a critical thinker and upholding the highest ethical standards will still be vital—for the individual and for society.

In short, I think we will be teaching the latest and greatest technology along with the tried and the true ways of thinking and communicating.

Oh, and I hope to open a branch campus on Mars.

Q: "Why aren't more student organizations involved with the city of Lubbock?" - Jasmine James

Jasmine James
  • Name: Jasmine James
  • Year: Sophomore
  • Major: Public Relations
  • Hometown: Houston, TX

A: Among our goals over the next five years is to increase our community outreach, engagement and impact, which I think is good for the College, Texas Tech, greater Lubbock, and especially our students. Many of our classes now take on local companies or non-profits as clients. I want to create more venues for students to conduct projects that they can show off on their work resumes. We are reaching out to media, government and civic organizations to try to create more of these service opportunities. Stay tuned--or better yet, come see me and help us out!