Q&A: Tom Reichert

New information and communications dean shares his vision for the college

Tom Reichert is the new dean of the College of Information and Communications. The college includes the School of Library and Information Science and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Reichert comes to Carolina from the University of Georgia, where he was head of the advertising and public relations department in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Reichert succeeds Charles Bierbauer, the founding dean of the college.

What interested you in the College of Information and Communications?

I was attracted to the college’s excellent programs and national reputation. Dean Bierbauer built a college with strong leadership, faculty, staff and facilities. I look forward to building upon the good work already in progress.

What are you most looking forward to about being at Carolina?

In addition to working with colleagues in the college, I am very impressed by the president and provost and the direction they have set for the university. I want to be in an innovative environment, and Carolina is the place to be right now. And, of course, I look forward to rooting for the Gamecocks!

What are your top goals for the college?

We want to continue enhancing our national reputation and setting the pace for innovation in our disciplines. Other important goals include (1) engagement with industry partners to create opportunities for students and research, (2) diversity and leadership training, and (3) enhancing our research profile. Otherwise, it is always vital to ensure we have strong majors, cutting-edge research agendas and difference-making service for the community, the state and the industries we represent.

How will the communication and information industries change in the next decade? How does the college prepare students so they are able to adapt to those changes?

A top priority is to ensure our students are well prepared to transition to the workforce. We do that with strong faculty who bring their expertise to bear in the classroom by teaching both the basics and new practices. The college also has a strong tradition of experiential learning through internships, study abroad and ongoing initiatives for students. Our students are also encouraged to be self-learners so they can continually adapt to an ever-changing environment.

Change is the one constant facing our industries. Again, working with information, analyzing that information and using it in a meaningful way will continue to be very important. Augmented reality and artificial intelligence are areas gaining a lot of attention so we will consider enhancing our efforts there. Overall, we’ll be very focused on “what’s next” so we can ensure our students get the education they need to be successful.

What are some of your ideas to better connect the two schools within the college?

We want each program to be among the best in its class, but we will be looking to enhance joint opportunities in the classroom and research. Areas of synergy include working with and managing data in a variety of contexts, among many others. As mentioned, augmented reality and artificial intelligence look to be important areas of opportunity for all disciplines represented within the college.

Do you plan to teach classes in addition to your role as dean? What have you enjoyed about being in the classroom?

I plan to devote my full attention to planning this year. We'll see after that. I will definitely do all I can to support excellent teaching.

Two things I enjoy about teaching are transformation and transition. I love to see the light bulbs go off as students grasp new concepts. I also enjoy making connections with students and watching them transition to their first jobs. It is especially meaningful to follow their successful careers.

What do you read, watch and listen to every day?

I typically listen to NPR, view my news feeds and scan social media. Depending on the day, I'll catch up on a few favorite podcasts. I also “attempt” to read for pleasure, but usually end up watching an episode of "Dude Perfect" with my boys.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m SEC proud. I have attended or been on faculty at four SEC universities.

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