July 1st – A Day of New Beginnings

Well, yesterday was finally July 1, 2011. A fateful day. A day of change and thresholds.

Before I tell you why it was so important, I have to say that I spent the evening in lovely surroundings, at my friend and colleague, Dr. Terry Flynn’s house in Kitchener. He and his wife put together a wonderful impromptu feast of shrimp and bbq steak, mushroom, onion and potatoes. I brought some Gazela, a Vinho Verde; and a yummy, jammy Australian cabernet-shiraz called Cat Amongst the Pigeons. After dinner, Terry served up some gelato and limoncello, which was a wonderful digestif. So, we spent the night by their beautiful torchlit pool, chatting excitedly about our plans for the years to come.

So what was special about July 1st?

First, it marked 10 years that I have been a professor at McMaster. I joined Mac in 2001, to co-found the communication studies program with Dr. Graham Knight. The last 10 years have just flown by. They have been filled with amazing students and colleagues, productive hours spent in the lab, and many wonderful hours spent in the classroom with many people whom I am now proud to call my friends. I love our communication studies alumni. Their success is truly my success.

Second, my colleague Terry Flynn’s transfer to CSMM is now complete and took effect on July 1st, 2011. He had a rough go of it in the DeGroote School of Business, where colleagues did not share his enthusiasm for communications management. I suggested to him a couple of years ago, after helping out a little with his renewal and seeing first hand his predicament, that he should transfer to CSMM, where he would be appreciated and cherished for his unique talents and experiences in professional communication. He decided to take the leap of faith, and, on July 1st, 2011, the transfer came into effect. All of us in CSMM are very excited about the expertise, enthusiasm, experience and dynamism that Terry will bring to our department.

Third, as of today, I moved my appointment to be fully in the Department of Communication Studies and Multimedia (CSMM). I was on the committee that founded the new McMaster department in 2006, when the Multimedia program left the School of the Arts and merged with us in communication studies to form a new department. However, in 2001, Communication Studies was just a free-standing interdisciplinary program, and Dean Woolf could only appoint me to an existing department. The result of this was that I was jointly appointed between Communication Studies and the French Department. That appointment is now coming to an end, and I am now fully appointed to the program I co-founded 10 years ago. That feels good.

Fourth, the DeGroote School of Business recently voted to transfer the Master of Communications Management (MCM) program to Humanities. My colleague Terry Flynn founded this program at McMaster in 2007 and has shepherded it to its current success. With his transfer to CSMM, it made sense that the MCM follow him. I teach in this program and am very excited that it is now coming to our department, where it will be nurtured, welcomed and actively developed.

Fifth, July 1st marks the beginning of a new process of program development that we are spearheading at McMaster. I am co-chairing the committee to develop a PhD; and chairing the committee to develop a Bachelor’s program in professional communication, joint with Mohawk. These are big steps forward for our unit, as we strive to become a professional communications powerhouse in Canada. Professional communications is a field that is just coming into its own, and I am happy to see that our generous and visionary Dean of Humanities, Suzanne Crosta, is investing in it actively and enthusiastically. We wouldn’t be able to implement these programs without Terry Flynn joining CSMM. He is a cornerstone of all the development of professional communications in CSMM and Humanities.

I also looked forward into the future, through fading light of dusk, as fireworks exploded overhead, happy to think of the many exciting adventures which lie ahead. Adventures full of new experiences and personal growth. Adventures full of helping others discover things about the world and about themselves, and working with new generations of students so that they might succeed.

What could be better?

Dr Terry Flynn & Dr Alex Sévigny standing beside the statue of someone in China infinitely wiser than either of them.

Join the Conversation


  1. A well articulated work of love. The optimism and future-outlook described in the last paragraph comes through clearly and should be bottled, marketed & sold…tks for sharing.

  2. Thank you for the kind words. I am always trying to innovate! Variety and progress are the spice of life.

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