Whether it’s being delivered on the airwaves, in column inches or bytes of data, one thing’s for certain: Saint Mary’s is increasingly making its mark in today’s media landscape. During the 2010–11 academic year, the College and its faculty, students and alumni were quoted or discussed in the media on more than 2,000 occasions, and SMC faculty were mentioned in news stories 235 times, up 97% from just two years ago. From stories in some of the nation’s top-tier newspapers — the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times — to mentions on small websites, such as Patch.com and Rugbymag.com, professors, deans and alumni proved to be active thought leaders in the public sphere.
As Saint Mary’s College faculty are increasingly quoted in print and broadcast media as experts on everything from political unrest in Egypt to safe and reliable energy in the United States, School of Liberal Arts Dean Steve Woolpert is standing out as a frequent voice in the external conversation about important local and national issues.
“Academics have a responsibility to contribute to public dialogue and share their expertise as public intellectuals outside their own classrooms,’’ said Woolpert, who started teaching at Saint Mary’s 30 years ago. “It’s always been my sense that it’s not just the role of an academic to discover knowledge but to put that knowledge into practice, to apply it to social problems.”
Beth Dobkin, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the College encourages faculty to participate in interviews and a few years ago its Office of College Communications launched a media training program that covers speaking in front of a camera, making ideas succinct and answering questions on target. “I’d say in the last year Saint Mary’s is breaking out. Instead of being this small pastoral college that nobody knows about, there is a big push to show off what we are doing,’’ she said. “Enough of this hidden gem stuff.”