The Mass Communications department has hired a new department chair, Professor Dale Zacher. Zacher will be replacing Mark Mills, who decided to step down from his position as chair after serving seven years so he could focus all his time on being in the classroom. When commenting on his replacement, Mills stated, “Our new chair, Dale Zacher, is excellent. He knows mass media inside and out and is a genuinely nice person. He also has professional experience in broadcast and multimedia journalism and in politics, which will make him a great asset to the department and to our student media.”
Zacher said that despite being an external hire, his varied experience has given him confidence to be able to adapt quickly to the new environment. He expressed excitement at being able to work within a mass communications department with such advanced broadcast technologies and experiential opportunities for all mass communications students, which he said is the best he has seen yet.
Zacher brings with him a large repertoire of teaching and professional experience. He began his career in academics at E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, where he was a teaching associate while he completed his Ph.D. From there, he went on to be an associate professor at Creighton University, the University of North Dakota, Northern Illinois University, and the University of Arkansas, in that order. Because of his diverse professional experience, he has been able to teach courses in various mass communications tracks, such as print and broadcast journalism and public relations.
His professional experience in mass communications began in 1982 at a radio station in Grand Forks, N. D., where he was part-time announcer and producer. Over the next ten years, he continued to work in both radio and TV broadcasting, including stints at NPR, CBS, and ABC affiliates. He has also managed PR for a North Dakota state governor campaign and served as public information officer for the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office. In talking about how his professional experience will make him a valuable asset to the department, he said, “With the field changing so much, you really need somebody who has that [experience]—someone who is looking to the past to help guide into the future.”
Zacher has several other notable accomplishments. With a special interest in mass communications history, he wrote a book on a major news media outlet during WW1 called “The Scripps Newspapers Go to War, 1914–1918”. He also won a Margaret Blanchard Doctoral Dissertation prize from the American Journalism Historians Association for his Ph.D. dissertation, and wrote the article, “Our Forest Home:” Editor Edward Meeman’s Crusade for Shelby Forest, 1933-3,” which was voted best in 2013 by the West Tennessee Historical Society Papers.
He said that aside from his administrative responsibilities as chair and teaching COMM 242 and COMM 415, his mission for now is to “learn as much as I can about everything… visiting other chairs, other people, other faculty, because it’s hard to know what the strengths and weaknesses are of a program unless you talk to people and gather information,” said Zacher.