FAMU’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication welcomed three new faculty members as the 2019-2020 academic year got underway last week: Will Ayers Jr., Hillary Speed and Jeff Wilkinson.
Ayers, a visiting professor who graduated from FAMU in 2008 with a bachelor’s in broadcast journalism before going on to earn master’s in integrated marketing communication in 2013 from Florida State University. He has come back to FAMU on a regular basis to lead workshops to benefit the students in SJGC and is a prominent member of the Board of Visitors.
Ayers, who hopes to be at FAMU for the foreseeable future, will be splitting his time as a visiting professor teaching public relations communications/methods this semester while also being immersed into the real world with his current job as a public relations professional.
“I chose FAMU because it is my alma mater and the university has played a key role in the success that I have achieved throughout my career,” Ayers said. “I am actually still working as a full-time public relations professional, so I will be balancing my time as PR professional and a visiting professor.
“I am in a very unique role because I will be traveling from Atlanta to Tallahassee every week to teach. I will also be assisting with other projects around the SJGC to help the students. I am super excited about this new opportunity because it will enable students to gain industry insight from a professor that is currently working in the field,” he added.
Speed, also a visiting professor, is a native of Newton, Mass., who double majored in American studies and history at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., just south of Minneapolis. She earned her master’s in journalism from Northwestern University.
Speed will be teaching introductory courses offered at SJGC with two sections of language Skills and one class of news writing and reporting I.
“Students should enroll in my classes if they like a dynamic classroom with group discussions and debates. They should also enroll if they are serious about improving their writing,” Speed said. “If you make a mistake, I will tell you. But that’s my way of showing I care. I want students to leave my classes feeling confident and ready to compete in the marketplace of young media professionals.
“I want to plant seeds in young storytellers, empowering them to tell the important stories of their generation. I want to help students acquire crucial writing skills so their voices will be powerful and taken seriously,” she added.
Wilkinson, an associate professor, has spent over a decade of his 33-year teaching career in China (Hong Kong and Zhuhai). He is teaching media ethics and news writing and reporting I this fall. His goal with FAMU is to shine light on the profile of the university and implement his knowledge on media and technology.
“Making a difference to add to the program’s national profile and reputation. I wish to continue my research in new media, technology, and social implications of journalism and communication,” said Wilkinson. “I have recently completed my 13th year teaching in China (Hong Kong and Zhuhai). I combine theory with practice in all my classes.“My research makes me a better teacher. I have a sense of humor,” he added.
Wilkinson received his bachelor’s in broadcasting from the University of Florida before heading to the University of Georgia, where he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in journalism and mass communication respectively.