The award recognizes the outstanding contributions that faculty advisers make to the success of their students and programs in media fields. Maksl and other recipients will be honored at an awards ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 26, at 5:30 p.m. at the Dallas Sheraton, Dallas, Texas, during the 2017 Associated College Press/College Media Association Fall National College Media Convention.
Maksl spoke with Academic Information Officer Steven Krolak about his advising philosophy and his role in The Horizon.
How does an adviser differ from an instructor?
My advising philosophy is somewhat tied into my general teaching philosophy, which focuses on promoting student autonomy, fostering community, and providing detailed feedback to help build students’ skills as well as their confidence in their work. While I advise the student publication, I do not control it. It is a student publication, and students make all the content decisions. I offer advice and help them think through decisions, but at the end of the day, the decisions are made by the student editors.
What goes into the role of faculty adviser?
It takes a strong appreciation for the role personal ownership takes in learning. Students must feel a connection and ownership of what they do and what they produce; without that, they’re just performing learning tasks with no clear connection to a larger purpose. Creating and fostering an environment where they see the connections between what they do in the classroom and what the newsroom produces makes the learning real and tangible. It also gives them the ability to make mistakes and learn from them.
What makes The Horizon unique?
First, tradition: We’ve had student publications at IU Southeast for 70 years. We’ve had strong students throughout that time, advised by great teachers like James Tidwell, Jim St. Clair, and Ron Allman. What makes it unique compared to many other student publications is that it is a hybrid model, in that it is both a student organization and a core part of the journalism curriculum. Any students can volunteer for the staff, and many do from many different majors across campus, but students who choose to major or minor in Multimedia Journalism are required to be on the staff for some time. In addition, many of our students are first-generation college students and even some non-traditional students. They come together with more traditional student populations to create a product that really tells the story of our unique campus community, because they are a true reflection of it.
What have you learned from being a faculty adviser?
The biggest thing I’ve learned is how important it is to let students solve challenges for themselves. That helps make them more independent learners. As an adviser, I’m pretty much always “on”—I get calls from students at all hours because of a technical problem or breaking news. Sometimes I can’t immediately respond or don’t immediately see a message. Sometimes when I call back, they tell me, “We figured it out.” I love it when that happens, because it shows true critical thinking and problem solving. In fact, I sometimes jokingly tell my students that my best teaching happens when I just ignore them for a little while!
How critical is the adviser to the tone, tenor and success of a college news organization?
I think that advisers can make sure that the experience is clearly a learning one, and faculty advisers can ensure that there is some connection to what students are learning in classrooms, and that classrooms are addressing the issues they’re facing in the newsroom. Also, I think in an era when students come into college expecting learning to happen to them, a good adviser can ensure they understand that they must play an active and engaged role in their own learning.