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SIS & CCI Townhall Bridges the Gap

Rachel Fleming-May, Diane Kelly, Dean Michael Wirth, Joseph Winberry and Hannah Brandon at the Town Hall

This article was written by Joseph Winberry and Hannah Brandon, two MSIS students who orchestrated the SIS & CCI Townhall event.

A dean, a school director, and a graduate studies director walk into a room—it’s not the beginning of a bar joke, but rather the events that unfolded on the evening of Feb. 5, 2019 in Patrick Auditorium. Michael Wirth, dean of the College of Communication and Information, Diane Kelly, director of the School of Information Sciences, and Rachel Fleming-May, director of SIS Graduate Studies, came together to participate in a joint CCI/SIS Townhall event with students in attendance via Zoom and in person.

This event was an effort to bridge the gap between college and school, administration and students, and on-campus and distance education students. The one-hour town hall—the first of its kind at the college—was jointly sponsored by Joseph Winberry and Hannah Brandon, members of both the Dean’s Student Advisory Committee and the Director’s Student Advisory Committee.

The purpose of the townhall was to give SIS masters students a chance to ask the trio questions on topics of mutual concern, such as the facilities, social opportunities for CCI students, and the CCI PhD program. But the conversation didn’t end there. The group addressed topics including: building professional networks, how to engage with the college as alumni, and what the information sciences program of the future will look like.


“As student representatives, we both encourage you to reach out to us with any questions or ideas that you have. It’s not very often that we get the chance to have such a wide-ranging conversation with three high-achieving individuals, and we enjoyed sponsoring and moderating this event.” - Joseph Winberry and Hannah Brandon


The townhall was just one of many ongoing efforts at SIS and CCI to have an open dialogue between students and administration; student leaders are here to keep the conversation going.

When the townhall wrapped, the panel reflected on the evening’s experience. Kelly said she would enjoy the opportunity to have more question and answer sessions in the future. Wirth said students could bring any issues of concern to him. But it may have been Dr. Fleming-May who had the most important reminder of the evening; when asked for one important takeaway for students, she replied, “Read Tanya’s newsletters.” “And,” Kelly added, “The newsletters, too.”

A recording of the Town Hall is available for viewing.