Faculty feature: Ed Adams
Ed Adams could not love his job more.
Currently in his second round as BYU’s Communications Department chair, Adams still gets to serve in the capacity for which BYU originally hired him: teaching COMMS 101, Mass Communications and Society, a task he still relishes to this day.
“I love the energy of new students when they first come to BYU or are thinking about being a communications major,” he said. “I like the energy of the large classes, while most of my colleagues don’t. The fact that I get to teach a class of 100 to 120 students is kind of an adrenaline rush.”
Coming to BYU, Making an Impact
A native of the Flint, Mich. area, Adams began his career managing a magazine publishing company after receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He later got a master’s and doctorate in mass communications.
After joining BYU’s Communication Department in 1999, Adams served as its chair from 2003-2008 and afterward as the associate dean for the college. During the past ten years, he oversaw the remodeling of the Brimhall Building and hired “the vast majority” of the faculty who have moved into it. He also helped to get the Daily 11 News broadcast on KBYU.
Perhaps his greatest accomplishment to date, however, has been bringing the department’s academic programs to national prominence.
“We created the AdLab beginning in 2004 with Doug McKinlay and spent years conceptualizing and finally bringing the idea to fruition. It’s propelled our advertising program to being obscure to one of the top 25 in the country,” Adams said. “We launched the Bradley Lab which helped us become one of the top five PR programs in the nation.”
Meanwhile, Adams also shepherded some changes based on faculty needs that have allowed the department’s research efforts to double over the past ten years.
Changes for the 21st Century
In 2011, after Adams returned to the helm of the communications department, he continued adapting the department for the 21st century.
The department has started to upgrade the broadcast program’s facilities to handle high-definition audio and video and has transformed the Universe from a daily print publication to an online newspaper with a weekly print edition. Plans to remodel BYU’s AdLab are in place for this summer, as well.
Adams has particularly focused on establishing a more effective teaching methodology. To increase engagement and prepare students for the modern work environment, the department aims to embrace more group learning, a shift that has already proven to be effective.
“It’s hard to do group work in traditional desks, and our environment is heavy on group work. We have decided to make changes that will facilitate the group work atmosphere of our majors,” Adams said. “Feedback has been great with these new rooms.”
In addition to changing the classroom setting, Adams has been helping the program prepare for the future by overseeing a massive curriculum change: the elimination of a needless semester of classes along with the addition of more up-to-date prerequisites.
“We used to have the dead semester, which is now a thing of the past, and we’re starting a visual communications class as part of the core,” he continued. “We are trying to get a leg up on social media analytics, . . . [and] we are hoping to start a research center with social media analytics.”
Despite all the changes required to compete in a rapidly evolving world, Adams emphasizes the importance of students keeping their schooling and career in perspective.
“Get some balance, go to a play, participate in intramurals,” he advised. “You only get this for four or five years so look at things holistically. Look at this as an experience that is never going to come in your direction again.”