Mellinger set to leave BU for Xavier University

Story by Christopher, Duderstadt

Gwyn Mellinger, department chair of mass media and visual arts, will be leaving Baker University after the spring semester to take a similar position at Xavier University in Cincinnati.

After the semester concludes, Mellinger will have spent 16 years at Baker, in which she has served as a professor, the adviser of the Baker Orange newspaper and the media department chair.

“It’s just time,” Mellinger said. “I was a journalist for about 15 years before I came to Baker and I knew it was time then to do something different.”

For the majority of Mellinger’s time at BU, she was the adviser of the Baker Orange, and the personal interaction with students on staff has been one of the things she has enjoyed most over the past 16 years.

“The students that I have had the opportunity to teach have been superior,” Mellinger said. “The external recognition that they have received through their work as journalists has represented the university well. They have represented the department well and have made me awfully proud.”

Baker alumna Rachel Hawkins was the editor of the Orange for the fall semester of 2011 and said that Mellinger really helped her in her first years on staff.

“One thing that I really appreciated about her was that she always wanted to know, ‘Well what do you think about this? What would you do in this situation?'” Hawkins said. “She didn’t necessarily tell you what to do or how to go about doing things. She wanted you to figure it out on your own and that was something that I really appreciated, especially my sophomore year when Baker was going through the big financial crisis and that was what I covered that year.”

Dave Bostwick, associate professor of mass media, has taken over as the adviser of the Baker Orange and credits Mellinger for helping him transition into the role and for building a strong media program at BU.

“I think she has had great vision at leading the department. I know for me she has been an excellent mentor,” Bostwick said. “I have learned a lot from her. I think we’re all going to miss her a lot, but I understand that she wanted to pursue another challenge.”

Mellinger feels comfortable about where the media department is at this point and has enjoyed helping the program develop.

“Even though I ended my stint as adviser of the Orange, it is one of those things I’ve continued to be interested in is the achievements of the students,” Mellinger said. “During the time I’ve been at Baker since the late 1990s, if the awards at the professional associations are any indication, our students have won more awards, state-wide honors, regional awards and national awards than the students at any other liberal arts college in the state. Dave (Bostwick) is continuing that and those standards, and I’m going to miss seeing what happens next.”

Mellinger will have the chance to continue working on program development at Xavier, where she will serve as the chair of the communication arts department. The program will have majors in electronic media, communications, advertising and public relations. It will also have five minors.

“The charge there is to develop new programs and also to develop interdisciplinary programs at a university that emphasizes, as Baker does, a liberal arts foundation,” Mellinger said. “Basically, I think what I am looking for is an opportunity for new challenges and new opportunities to build programs.”

Although Mellinger will be leaving her role as the chair of the media and visual arts department, she recommended that Joe Watson, associate professor of mass media, be the person to fill the position. Mellinger indicated that Brian Posler, executive vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college of arts and sciences, is already working on ensuring that Watson will be the new chair of the media department.

“Fortunately, Joe had a lot of training from Gwyn and he’s watched how she operates, so I don’t think it will be any kind of abrupt change,” Bostwick said. “I really do look forward to working with Joe.”

Hawkins also believes that the media department will be in good hands with Watson since he also has professional media and teaching experience, but she said that there will be one thing in particular that will be missed about Mellinger.

“Nobody will ever edit your stories like Gwyn will, but she did it out of love and she just wants everybody to give it their best,” Hawkins said. “I think it is great that she recognizes that it is time for her to move on to bigger things and I’m excited for her.”