Academic Communication Professionals Flock to MC for Statewide MCA Conference Feb. 9
Effective communication is an essential tool in reducing misunderstandings and avoiding potential conflicts. In a world saturated by social media platforms that dominate how individuals relate to one another, providing clear, concise, and prudent messaging has never been more important.
That modern-day verité will underscore Dr. Pete Smith’s presentation when he addresses dozens of academic communicators from virtually every college throughout the state during the Mississippi Communication Association’s annual conference Friday, Feb. 9, at Mississippi College.
The associate professor and coordinator of the Communication and Media Studies concentration in the Department of Communication at Mississippi State University will give the keynote address, “Marshall McLuhan and Edward T. Hall: The Friendship That Helped Shape Out Understanding of the Relationship Between Technology and Humanity.” MCA 2024 is scheduled from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. in Anderson Hall on the second floor of the B.C. Rogers Student Center on the Clinton campus.
As the title suggests, Smith’s message will center on the conversations and correspondence between McLuhan, a noted communication theorist and philosopher, and Hall, an American anthropologist and expert on nonverbal communication.
“I will discuss how those talks helped shape our understanding of the connection between technology and its users,” Smith said. “Hall and McLuhan’s ideas are still as relevant now, if not more so, as they were in the 1960s.”
Smith’s talk will buttress the MCA 2024, an interactive cornucopia of research presentations, faculty panels, and business sessions designed for academicians to exchange ideas and promote their communication programs.
Reid Vance, associate professor and chair of communication at Mississippi College, said this year’s theme, “Technology Meets Humanity,” encompasses many of the faculty, graduate, and undergraduate student submissions to be featured at the conference.
“Mississippi College students get to engage with faculty members from other universities and other professionals who are part of MCA,” Vance said. “Since the conference is right here on our campus, the students have a rather convenient way to present their original research in a conference setting.
“MC subsidizes memberships for students who are interested in joining the association. Attending the conference enhances their resumes and enhances their possibilities for graduate work and their professional careers.”
Smith, who received MSU’s 2023 Mississippi Humanities Council Teacher of the Year Award, is familiar with Mississippi College. His father, Glenn Smith, played football for the Choctaws in the early 1960s and his older sister attended basketball camp at MC when they were children.
“I’m looking forward to my visit to MC,” Smith said. “I know Mississippi College to be a great institution of higher learning. I have many friends who attended and graduates from MC.”
A faculty member in the MSU Department of Communication since 2003, Smith is the author of “Birddogs and Tough Old Broads: Women Journalists of Mississippi and a Century of State Politics, 1880s-1980s,” which highlights women who covered the Capitol and state political issues. Recipient of MSU’s Institute for the Humanities’ inaugural Humanities Fellowship Award in 2021, Smith used the fellowship to complete his “Birddogs” manuscript.
Smith has an undergraduate degree in communication students from MSU, a master’s degree in communication from Auburn University, and a Ph.D. in mass communication with an emphasis on mass communication history from the University of Southern Mississippi.
His published pieces have examined the journalism careers of Carolyn Bennett Patterson – a native Mississippian with a distinguished 20-year career as an editor at National Geographic magazine – and Norma Fields – who covered the state capitol beat for the Tupelo Daily Journal in the 1970s and ‘80s. He also has studied how local and state media framed the political campaigns of Evelyn Gandy, the first woman to win election to multiple statewide offices, including lieutenant governor.
Smith also authored the book, “Something On My Own: Gertrude Berg and American Broadcasting 1929-1956.” A former president of the American Journalism Historians Association, he is a contributing editor to Journalism History, the academic journal of the History Division of the Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication, and is on the advisory board of the Mississippi Free Press. His research interests include Southern politics, 20th century broadcasting and print history, American cultural myths, and social construction of gender.
“I appreciate what MCA does for instructors and professors of communication around the state, giving us a chance to meet and share ideas,” Smith said. “I also love the fact that MCA is an environment that encourages undergraduate and graduate student growth.”
Vance said MC’s communication faculty have participated in the Mississippi Communication Association for many years.
“Dr. Cliff Fortenberry was one of our faculty members and members of the MCA who kept it going during some down years,” he said. “All of our current faculty in the department are involved, so we’re pleased to host this conference on our campus.
“The consensus among members of the association is that Mississippi College is a really good place to host the conference. Our facilities are outstanding, we’re in a central location, and our faculty and staff work hard to be good hosts. It’s a good forum for our students to present their own research, and it’s a positive event for the community.”
Registration for MCA 2024 costs $35 per person. For more information or to register click here.