CMI 2020 Annual Report

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Profiles

Dean Ankney seeks to wake

sleeping giant at Point Park

Point Park University hired a dean

for the School of Communication that will

begin this summer.

Provost and Senior Vice President for

Academic Affairs John Pearson sent an

email addressed to faculty and staff on

Jan. 24 announcing the hiring of Raymond

“Bernie” Ankney, Ph.D., as the Dean of the

School of Communication.

“I think he will not only create new academic

and professional opportunities for

students, but I think he will bring in a lot

more students to the School of Communication,

and I think he will bring the kind

of attention that the school deserves,”

Pearson said.

Ankney will come to Point Park from Samford

University in Birmingham, Ala., where

he served as Chair of the Journalism and

Mass Communication Department for 13

years.

In June 2018, Ankney announced that the

2018-2019 school year would be his last

as Chair, and he began searching for dean

positions that fall.

“When the Point Park position opened, I

was just ecstatic,” Ankney said. “I grew up

in western Pennsylvania, and I’ve always

viewed Point Park as a sleeping giant. This

is a university that has so much potential.”

Pearson is optimistic about Ankney’s future

at the university due to his “track record

of success.” In the email from the Office of

the Provost, Pearson explains that during

Ankney’s time as Chair at Samford, he advanced

the university in various ways.

Photo by Kate Sullivan Green

“His record of success is important because

it shows that he can not only see what’s

possible, but he can work with the faculty

and think, ‘how can we get from where we

are to where we want to be,’” Pearson said.

Associate Professor of Broadcast Production

Robin Cecala chaired the search committee

for the School of Communication

dean and also vouched for Ankney’s ability

to “click” with the faculty.

“He had the experience we were looking

for,” Cecala said. “He really had the enthusiasm.

He was really excited about Point

Park. He really had a lot of good ideas.

You really felt like he was going to come in

here and do his best to push the School of

Communication forward, unite everybody

Ankney wants to focus on recruitment,

raising money for students, alumni outreach

and even detailed a few specific ideas he has

for the school, with an ultimate goal to make

Point Park a national program.

“There are some things that Point Park does

that nobody else is doing, and I think this

program right now is in a great place to take

off and really grow,” Ankney said.

One of Ankney’s ideas is to introduce a

sports communication major.

“I think there is enormous potential to have

a sports communication major in Pittsburgh,”

Ankney said. “I would love to partner

with the professional sports teams since

Point Park has so many alumni working

there. Our sports media minor at Samford

the country. I feel very confident that the

sports communication program, maybe

we’ll partner with [Rowland School of Business]

on that, will be a huge draw and bring

many new students to Point Park.”

Another idea of Ankney’s focuses on entrepreneurial

journalism.

About eight to nine years ago, Ankney

noticed that about a third of his journalism

students were starting their own businesses,

and he would like faculty and alumni

to help seniors create business plans that

will allow graduates to successfully start

their own publications or businesses.

“I very much think a future of journalism

education should be focusing on giving

students the skills they need to start their

own publications and their own production

businesses,” Ankney said.

Ankney plans to emphasize the importance

of student media at Point Park, on-campus

experience he views as “invaluable.”

Additionally, Ankney wants to create a

Student Advisory Committee to hear from

all School of Communication students on

how he can better serve them.

Ankney’s action plans align with Pearson’s

observation that Ankney is student- and

teacher-focused. Ankney will even teach a

course during his first semester on campus.

“I’m really happy that Bernie wants to take

that time and get to know our students

to teach and be known as a teacher and

an administrator who strongly values the

role of teaching in the work of the faculty,”

Pearson said.

Pearson says Ankney is not only intelligent,

but he has a social, relational and emotional

IQ that makes him great with people.

“He’s sincere, he’s honest, he’s very direct,”

Pearson said. “As a candidate, he was one

of the most direct people I’ve ever interviewed

in my career.”

Pearson noted the School of Communication

has “really exceptionally talented

faculty” who “care deeply about what they

do.” Pearson said it’s important to bring in

a dean that will work well with the existing

faculty.

Overall, Pearson believes Ankney is a great

fit for the position.

“He was great because he was just being

Bernie, and he was being himself,” Pearson

said. “He wasn’t trying to prove himself. He

was just being himself, and to me that said

everything.”

Ankney desires a collaborative effort and

encourages students, faculty and staff to

approach him with ideas to better the entirety

of the School of Communication.

“I think the potential is just incredible, and

I am honored to be chosen for this role and

for it to be in an area of the country that I

just absolutely adore,” Ankney said.

This article first appeared on Point Park

University’s website

About Bernie Ankney

Ankney is a Ligonier, Pa. native and said he

was “one of those kids who knew he was

going to be a journalist at a young age.”

Around ages thirteen and fourteen, Ankney

was writing sports stories for the Ligonier

Echo including softball, baseball and other

high school sports. He graduated from Ligonier

High School in 1983.

Ankney’s young desires became reality as

he graduated from Indiana University of

Pennsylvania (IUP) with a journalism degree

in 1987. He then moved to Washington D.C.

and worked as a reporter for health science

publications for five years.

In 1992, Ankney moved to Johnstown, Pa.

and worked at Conemaugh Health System

as Director of Scientific Communication and

also started his own magazine, Western PA

Medicine.

In 1996, Ankney earned his master’s from

Syracuse University and then went to University

of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for

his doctorate.

Ankney held his first teaching job at Temple

University in Philadelphia, Pa. and accepted

an offer in 2002 back at IUP as a faculty

member before being promoted to Program

Director. Then, Ankney accepted the

position he is currently finishing at Samford

in 2006.

Open Records director answers

local journalists’ RTK questions

Erik Arneson, director of the

Pennsylvania Office of Open Records, led

a workshop Oct. 1 on the state’s Right-To-

Know law that governs the public record

requesting process. About 25 professionals,

including journalists and grant-writers,

attended.

Among Ankney’s feats at Samford, Ankney

raised the national profile of the journalism

major, doubled enrollment in the department’s

academic programs, increased

annual fundraising and established interdisciplinary

programs.

and provide a good future for us.”

has allowed me to bring kids in from all over

54 Photo By Tyler Polk

55

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