Longtime Clemson faculty and staff member Wanda Johnson has been named director of student media under Clemson’s communication department. Beginning July 1, Johnson will provide leadership and mentoring for students across all of Clemson’s student media organizations.
Johnson brings 30-plus years of combined experience in broadcast news, radio, web productions, promotions, public relations and marketing. Following a 20-year career in TV news, Wanda joined Clemson University in 2007 as director of broadcast communications in the former Office of Public Affairs. She served as a communication strategist in the university’s division of university relations prior to her current role as director of communications for Clemson’s division of inclusion and equity.
Johnson began serving as a lecturer in the communication department in 2012. She said she is excited to begin a new leadership role at Clemson that combines her previous work with students with her extensive background in media.
“Serving the University as a whole and later in a position specific to Inclusion and Equity have been incredible experiences, and both allowed me to serve as faculty in the communication department,” Johnson says. “I feel I’ve come full circle with this position, and I’m excited to put all of my focus into a department I have loved and admired during my time at Clemson.”
Johnson makes it clear that her role will not be to dictate the direction of each media organization; that power is to remain with the students. She will, however, be on hand to facilitate and advise students when needed. She will also work with each organization to increase student recruitment and bring fresh ideas for media outreach and content to the table.
Johnson plans to spend the summer and early fall becoming familiar with each student organization so that she can understand their goals and methods of operation. She hopes to bring in colleagues working in media from inside and outside the university to observe and offer feedback for innovative ways to increase student media’s presence inside and outside the university.
“I intend to continue building relationships with local, regional, national and international media organizations as well as public relations and marketing firms that frequently ask if we have students, not only for internships, but for jobs,” Johnson says. “I’m better positioned now to help make that happen from the classroom and our student media organizations.”
Johnson hopes to also encourage students to leave the Clemson area to chase stories happening within the Upstate and beyond. She says that doing so will improve and diversify the content that each student emerges with in a portfolio upon graduation, whether they continue a career in media or not.
Lee A. Gill, chief inclusion officer and special assistant to the president for inclusive excellence, says the division of inclusion and equity and the university as a whole have been consistently rewarded by Johnson’s ability to tell the plethora of diversity stories at Clemson University. He says students will benefit from her years of experience at Clemson and in the media industry.
“Wanda’s mentorship, advisement and professionalism with staff will be sorely missed [in the division of inclusion and equity],” Gill says. “Wanda is a true communications professional, so we are reconciled that what she will bring to her new position as director of student media will be most impactful!”
Joseph Mazer, chair of Clemson’s communication department, said he is thrilled to welcome Johnson on in a larger capacity within the department. He has seen firsthand her abilities to work with and advise students, and he thinks her years of experience in media will allow her to paint a realistic picture of the media landscape for students who are eager to work within it.
“We have an alumni wall on the fourth floor of Strode that features photos of many of Wanda’s former students,” Mazer says. “They’ve gone on to become producers, reporters and anchors at the local and national level. It would be hard to find someone with the diversity of experience working in media that Wanda brings to the table and the energy she brings to the classroom.”
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