Jerry Aumente in Lithuania

Prof. Jerry Aumente with his class of Lithuanian students.

By Liz Fuerst 

When J/MS Distinguished Professor Emeritus Jerome Aumente went to teach this fall at the University of Vilnius in Lithuania on a Fulbright Specialist grant assignment, he had his graduate students study the J/MS department’s acclaimed 9/11 Student-Journalism Project as an example of using the multi platform strengths of the internet to tell a story.

Rutgers’ 9/11 Project involved text, still photographs and video to profile children of New Jersey 9/11 victims on the 10th anniversary of the Twin Towers tragedy (see related story about alumnus Jason Scharch on page 5).

Aumente said he found the
J/MS reportage “very moving” and felt he could use it to help the Vilnius students create a multimedia website on health and environment issues.

Although the university was founded in the 16th century,  its outlook on the media is decidedly modern. Aumente spent four weeks there as a guest of the Institute of Journalism and the Faculty of Communication, lecturing on new media and the internet. He also advised the journalism faculty on curriculum development and research initiatives.

The health and environmental website “was custom designed for Lithuania and the greater Vilnius region,” Aumente reported, “and the students did a superb job planning its graphic design, editorial content, budget, technology, advertising and marketing strategies.

“Their theoretical study of new media and internet wedded professionally with the real-life practical challenge they confronted.”

Aumente donated to the institute library copies of his own books on new media and those of the J/MS Department Chair, John Pavlik.

The globe-trotting Aumente has been very busy this year on journalism consulting projects abroad.

He spent some of the summer in Mozambique, where he completed a detailed evaluation of health journalism and communication training on behalf of the Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The school has a major grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to combat communicable diseases, with a focus on HIV-AIDS.

“Mozambique is a vibrant, developing nation emerging from its Portuguese colonial history and facing serious health challenges where one of six of its people has contracted HIV-AIDS,” Aumente said. “The country has launched a nationwide campaign to fight it, and a new generation of trained health journalists and health communicators is urgently needed.”

From the Winter 2011 Issue

To find a successor to Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick, the university has tapped a blue-ribbon committee that includes Dean Jorge Schement of the School of Communication and Information and Yetunde Odugbesan, J/MS 2009, a current Rutgers Ph.D. candidate.

Schement said the committee has been meeting frequently, and by June, the search should be narrowed down to a handful of candidates. Aiding the committee in its search is the prominent education search firm R. William Funk & Associates of Dallas, Texas.

The search committee has held several public forums with students, faculty, and staff, which Schement has attended, to listen to suggestions.

The selection of a new president, according to Schement “will determine the future of the university for decades. This is a great university that deserves a great president.”

Schement said the new president could come from academia or politics or even the corporate sphere. “My hope that whoever it is, that person will be comfortable living the public life,” he continued.

Among the important tasks for the next president, as Schement sees it, are overseeing the merger of the university with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), bringing more diversity to the faculty, and taking an active role in fundraising.

He clearly emphasized that it is critical for the new president to represent the Rutgers University brand.
“He or she should be a salesman for the university to all kinds of constituencies,” said Schement, “to make New Jerseyans feel about Rutgers the way Californians think of Berkeley and Texans think of the University of Texas.”