Leaning back in a leather office chair and sipping black coffee from the stained rim of his Starbucks cup, David Tucker recalled his past, from his time as a morning disk jockey in 1974 “telling jokes to the cows” to, just recently, his position as the University of Toledo’s Communication Department chair.
Decades out of the studio, Tucker received a Ph.D. in communication and has years of experience in academia. He moved from communicating over the airwaves in the ‘70s to communicating with students about their future.
Through his conversations and years in the classroom, Tucker determined, “millennials tend to want to know where they’re supposed to go and what they’re supposed to do.”
So, to tend to that need, he set goals for the department and himself.
“The first goal is to go back through the curriculum as a department and…institute the concept of tracks on the communications side,” Tucker said.
As a result, he hopes that students will focus in one area of the communication department.
“Someone could say, ‘Yeah, I concentrated in [a specific area]’ so they’re not kind of just floating around and taking a bunch of classes,” Tucker said.
For second-year communication major, Katherine Zieber, a concentrated path would erase her grievances with the department.
Under the current curriculum, Zieber is required to enroll in print journalism classes, and for someone who is focused on a career in broadcast media, she found that “while having a professor who wrote for print is beneficial for those wanting to go into print,” it is isn’t very helpful to her.
But, the work sprawled on Tucker’s desk—binders, media textbooks and piles of paperwork—displayed his efforts to address student’s concerns and answer his question: “What is it we really want our students to be able to do, and, how [do] we want them to be able to perform?”
Tucker plans to incorporate a blend of the “skills classes,” such as feature writing and broadcast, to get students job-like experience with upper level classes.
The idea is “to force the student to do a lot of writing, to do a lot of thinking,” in preparation for a career change or graduate school, Tucker said.
“It is about the students,” he said.
Motioning towards the back wall of his office and shifting away from his strategic plans, Tucker pointed out his love for the Browns, made evident by the small cloth marked “Cleveland” hanging on his office bookshelf.
But, it’s what was behind the football shrine that stood out.
A centuries-old book by Plato sat feet away from a guide to social media. This juxtaposition, coupled with his graying beard and seasoned taste in literature, shows Tucker is capable of rolling with the times and educating a new generation.