Thursday, April 26, 2012

Here is also a peak at the VERY FIRST brochure advertising the COML program!  Read the interview to see who designed the brochure pro-bono!

John Caputo - Interview 2

As promised, here is another interview involving a very influential member, to say the least, of the Communication and Leadership Program Masters program.  John Caputo, the founder of the COML Masters Program was kind enough to meet and the interview below is what transpired!


I had the pleasure of meeting with John Caputo, who graciously agreed to meet for an interview regarding not only his role in the COML program but also for an informatory interview on how the program first got started and how it has transformed.  As I walked into his office at the time of our meeting I walked into an office that was full of books.  Some on shelves, some in piles, and some scattered.  Yet, they all seemed to be put in a designated and correct place. As I walked into John Caputo’s office he greeted me with a larger then life smile and a big hello!  His voice is one that screams confidence, is enthusiastic and has a tone that is soft and reassuring at the same time.  Upon sitting down with John he wanted to know all about my own involvement in the COML program.  It is clear he has a genuine desire to learn not only about me as a student of the COML program, but all COML students.  It became apparent that he is very engaged in many aspects of the program when he began asking more about my own thoughts, ideas, and views from when I first began the program till now as I am about to graduate.  It is as if he is always gathering bits of information and data on how he can add to and make the program better.  After explaining how I got involved with the program and where I currently stood within the program I started asking the questions!

John informed me that COML classes were actually offered in the year 2002 even though the program did not officially start until 2004.  This was because the ORGL program was older and already in place meaning there were classes which later became a part of the COML program that originally correlated with the ORGL program, just how classes currently intertwine between with each program.  When the first year the COML program launched, year 2004, it began with 45 students and the goal was to admit 15 new students per semester.  This goal was surpassed when spring semester came and 27 new students were admitted.  The support and desire from individuals wanting to be involved was slightly unexpected and overwhelming.  When the COML program first launched there was no online portion or section to it.  However once the demand was seen for those wanting to enter into the COML program there was a push to add the online portion to the program.

Before the online classes were added to the COML program more and more students were moving to Spokane due to the fact that the program resided on the Gonzaga campus in Spokane, Washington.  When I asked John to reflect on his thoughts back when the program first started and the demand that caused the program to grow he sat back and simply said he remembers thinking, “it is all really happening, and it is the real thing!”  With that said, John felt an immense responsibility for the students because he realized there were consequences with every action.  He reflected on all the students that relocated to Spokane, Washington for the program.  John felt it was his duty to ensure their experience was the best he could possibly make it seeing as the students had relocated for the program he had helped create.  This helps give a clear picture of the person John Caputo is, a person who deeply cares for those around him.

It was not until online classes were added to the COML program thereby creating an online option and portion to the program that the program was really allowed to grow into the size it has today.  When asked about the online portion of the program and what exactly it has done for the program, Caputo reflected and said it has helped make the COML Master’s degree into one of the largest master’s degree in the United States.  The COML Master’s program consists of 75 campus students and approximately 500 online students.  Most masters programs hold an enrollment anywhere from 40-70 students.  While the online portion has allowed for the COML program to grow to its fullest potential it has also made it more difficult to grow the on campus classes.  Caputo reflected on this and said in a sense this makes it difficult because it is on campus where the classes really get a chance to develop.  I asked him what he meant by this and he simply responded by saying that when conducting a class on campus the professor and students have the luxury of changing the class if something is not going as planned or if the class was inspired to change directions they can do so by reformatting the class in a new, unforeseen, and possibly better way.  This is much more difficult to do in an online course Caputo reflects. 

Caputo’s ambitions for the COML Master’s program was that it would be a high quality Master’s degree.  It was essential that it included the Jesuit Ethos, an inherit part of Gonzaga University.  Part of the Jesuit philosophy is ‘women and men for others’ and the idea that those individuals involved have the potential to change the world.  This is exactly what Caputo set out to accomplish with the COML program, taking those same concepts and applying them to the program.  As the program matures and continues to grow Caputo saw it fit to develop a new focus in college teaching.  When researched 1/3 of students were interested in the idea of college teaching but were not as well as prepared to embark on continuing that desire as they needed to be.  Caputo believes it is essential to continue to build the program to the needs and desires of those enrolled, the students.  Other areas of communication Caputo hopes to develop in the program are digital media and journalism. 

As the COML program moves forward it is looking to hire a new faculty member and for the first time is having two sessions of learning overseas.  The two sessions will take place both in the summertime and France and Ireland is looking to be added to the areas traveled.  For the first time two scholarships were raised for students who otherwise would not have been able to participate in the travel abroad program.

As the interview neared towards the end I asked Caputo to think about when it would be time for him to retire and what it would be like for him to leave the program.  He responded by saying he cannot see any reason why he would stop doing what he was doing within the program.  Within the last three years he no longer operated as chair, Heather Crandal took over, however this past year he stepped in again so that Crandal would have more time and be able to pursue other areas.  Overall Caputo enjoys the work he does and cannot imagine his life without it.  I think it goes for all, the students and all those involved with the program, to be thankful for not only Caputo’s drive and ambition but dedication.  We all owe a large thank you to him.      

Lastly, when asked what John's favorite quote is he responded with the following: From Robert Bolt's "A Man for All Seasons"  In a conversation with between Sir Thomas More and Richard Rich:

Sir Thomas More: Why not be a teacher? You'd be a fine teacher; perhaps a great one.
Richard Rich: If I was, who would know it?
Sir Thomas More: You; your pupils; your friends; God. Not a bad public, that.

- Robert Bolt, “A Man for All Seasons

Friday, January 20, 2012

This is the start of a series of interviews with professors, fellow alumni, and guests, and we have decided to start with a well-known professor.  Many of you will be familiar with the name and face, for she has had the opportunity to teach quite a few of you. 

Introducing our first post to the COML Alumni Blog we are featuring an in depth interview with well known adjunct professor and mentor, Sara Johnston better known as the infamous 'Sara J,' to many COML students.  For many of the students that have participated in the online community within the Communications and Leadership Studies program, the name Sara Johnston may look familiar.  Sara Johnston teaches two 8 week intensive courses alongside Cher Desautel, both partners with Desautel Hege Communications (DHC).  DHC is an integrated public relations and marketing firm with 14 employees.

Prior to this, having been a traditional student in the sense that I had taken most classes on campus I did have the opportunity to take both Cher and Sara’s online course, COML 511 Seminar in Communications in Consulting and Training.  After taking their online course I have had a firsthand experience seeing what a strong community exists online through the COML program.  Therefore, in order to represent the online community, when thinking of the first individual to interview for the COML Alumni group, Sara Johnston came to mind as an obvious choice.   

I had the pleasure of sitting down to interview Sara Johnston of Desautel Hege Communications.  True to form, as I met her in person, the warmth and light she displayed online was even more present in real life.  We had agreed to meet at Desautel Hege Communications, located downtown Spokane.  As I stood in the waiting room I saw a petite blonde walking towards me.  Sara approached me and greeted me with a warm, kind, big, smile and immediately offered me a cup of coffee or water.  As we walked around the corner to a back conference room where we could sit and visit I noticed Desautel Hege Communications observes casual Friday, for Sara, along with the majority of the firm, was sporting their blue jeans.  It was refreshing to see unpretentiousness of a firm that still observed casual Friday.  Sara led me into a conference room that was of a warm grey tone with two overstuffed chairs facing one another.  The way the conference room was designed created an environment that was welcoming, and warm, much like Sara was. 

I began the interview, asking Sara to tell me a little about herself.  She told me she is a Spokane native, born and raised.  She went to Eastern Washington University for her Undergraduate work.  When asked what she majored in, she laughed as she joked that it was so long ago she had to think back in what she majored in - Organizational Communication and Journalism.  Sara was the fourth person to join Desautel Hege Communications in 1998.  She worked within the company for 6 years before continuing her education in Gonzaga’s very own, Communication and Leadership Studies Program.  She was later told, after completing the program that she was the first official accepted person of the program, which is exciting to look back on.  She began the program in 2004 and it took her approximately 2.5 to 3 years to complete the program; during that time she continued working at Desautel Hege Communications and also made partner, so needless to say she was one busy lady! 

When asked why she decided to commit to the COML program she gave a little history to the program.  It turns out Cher Desautel worked with John Caputo when creating the program.  When Sara was working alongside Cher at Desautel Hege Communications, Sara would hear about the program and all the progress being made within.  Therefore when Sara made the decision to continue with school she was faced with what program to enter into; she remembers thinking about whether to enter into the Organizational Leadership Program, an MBA, or the COML program.  She made her decision to enter into the COML program because she wanted a more broad leadership perspective that linked with communication and the COML program was the perfect balance between the two for both her professional and personal life.  It was through Sara working with Cher at Desautel Hege Communications that she learned about the foundation of the COML program; she learned that it was a program dedicated to combining theory and real world experiences along with philosophy. 

When asked what Sara gained most from the program she responded without hesitation that she had grown as an individual.  She believes the program, through the academic rigor, the people involved, combined with Gonzaga’s sense of community, really helped challenge her and helped her grow mentally and spiritually into a more well rounded individual.  Overall, she believes the program to be adaptive and one that allows for growth and expansion as times change and new advancements are made.  The three changes she most noticed in herself upon enlisting and graduating in the program were how the program helped expand her understanding of leadership, how it helped her appreciate different types of leadership, and how it helped give her an idea of the kind of leader she strives to be. These three changes significantly helped Sara with her role at Desautel Hege Communications.   

Sara began teaching for Gonzaga’s COML program along with Cher Desautel and has been doing so for approximately 5 years now.  Sara reflected and said, the process of her teaching along with Cher happened organically; much as Cher had  worked alongside with John Caputo and the COML program early on and at the time Sara worked with Cher at Desautel Hege Communications.  As a result, Sara was inspired by the program from its inception and loves being a part of it today!  Sharing what she’s experiencing on a daily basis in an agency environment, with students across the country and world through the online environment.

Favorite quote - “Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: ‘I’m with you kid. Let’s go.’” -Maya Angelou