University hires new communications chair

The Department of Communications hired a new department chair June 20, as the selection committee chose Butler Cain to fill the position. Cain officially starts in August 2016.

Cain, who leaves his position as assistant professor in the Department of Communication at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, has a well-versed background in journalism, said Administrative Assistant Jeanne Baughman.

“You need somebody in the position that’s going to be personable, knowledgeable, have good management skills and get along well with everyone in a working situation,” she said. “(Cain) seemed to fill all of those requirements.”

Before accepting his current position at WTAMU, Cain worked for Alabama Public Radio in two separate stints, one of which was as the news director from 1998-2009. Prior to this stint, Cain worked as a student in the early 90’s.

Cain earned three degrees from the University of Alabama. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism before obtaining his PhD in Media History.

Cain said while it was difficult to leave his current position, the opportunity to “come home” to Alabama was tough to decline.

“I love my job at WT, and I really have not been looking to leave,” Cain said. “It’s a terrific place to work, and it has been great. However, the job at UNA was something that I was interested in. I knew the area and the program, and it was a job I wanted to explore.

“Thankfully, I got the opportunity to be invited out and meet with the folks of the department and let them meet with me. They offered me the job, and it was something that I couldn’t turn down.”

Cain said he’s not only grateful to leave his former school on good terms but is excited to work with two UNA communications professors he’s known and been friends with for multiple years.

Assistant Professor of Radio, Television and Film Patricia Sanders worked with Cain at APR while teaching at UNA. Assistant Professor of Communications Beth Garfrerick attended UA with Cain while both worked on their doctoral degrees.

Cain’s top priority as the new chair is to quickly build relationships with students and teachers, he said in an email.

“My first goal is to simply get plugged in, learn as much as I can about the Communications Department as quickly as I can, and get to know the faculty members better,” Cain said. “The department has been considering some big plans, and I would like for all of us to talk about what our priorities might be and how we might be able to achieve the things we want to do.

“I’m also looking forward to getting to know our students and learning how our program can help them achieve their academic and professional goals.”

The selection committee consisted of Sanders, Associate Dean Christopher Maynard, English Department Chair Cynthia Burkhead, former interim Communications Chair Jason Flynn and communications professors Janet McMullen and Stephanie Montgomery.