The Summer-Fall 2021 issue of Dialogue magazine is in a digital-only format. The “Alumni Achievements” and “Faculty Focus” sections will return with the next print issue, due out in 2022.
As I prepare for academic year 2021–22, I’m reflecting on the one in the rearview. I welcome those lingering lessons of loss and adversity. Surrendering to the social and societal demands of COVID-19 meant we could give ourselves a little more space to become engaged, informed citizens. Stripping away all the tasks that typically fill our calendars meant we could take more time to listen to and learn about one another’s triumphs and trials. And most illuminating, we were reminded of how roadblocks are often invitations for creative thinking. Working around obstacles fortifies our resilience and determination, which is precisely what’s necessary in building a culture that prizes and prioritizes finding solutions for global communication challenges.
All of this has me thinking about who we are, now.
This all-digital issue of Dialogue details our year of remarkable successes, which include a banner season of fundraising, measurable advances in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and plans to support our community in tangible, meaningful ways. You will also have a chance to meet our new faculty—an enormous source of pride for me. Not only is this the most diverse cohort of educators we’ve ever welcomed at once, but they are bringing expertise and scholarship to Northwestern that we can leverage as we continue to grow, recruit students, and map out our pedagogical future. And lastly, you will get to read about the many ways our community took a year-plus of hardship and spun it into a new sense of purpose.
And though I’m soon commencing what will be a very busy year of travel for the school, there’s still much to do closer to home. We’re hard at work reimagining our school’s mission and vision; rolling out new programs that will strengthen the connective tissue and collaborative opportunities within and between departments; and reorganizing our advisory board to better reflect our large and accomplished alumni community.
We’re hopeful that this academic year will feel more like years past, with a return to in-person learning, activities, and events. Yet the events we endured ensure that our School of Communication will never be the same—and I welcome that growth.
E. Patrick Johnson
Dean, School of Communication
Annenberg University Professor