Friday, October 31, 2008

The Best Communications School in America

Michael's, on West 55th Street, is a well-known media hangout that I finally hung out in this week. (I think I need to get out more.) The event was a reception for Lorraine Branham, the new dean of the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. Alert readers of this blog already know that the Newhouse School is my alma mater.

The restaurant served finger food, which was quite nice, and free booze, which was even nicer. Journalists will never pass up a chance to drink for free, especially in this economic climate.

I talked briefly with Dean Branham and mentioned that the sports department at The New York Times, where I've worked since 1997, is lousy with Newhouse graduates. She was already aware of that. I'm afraid that means she knows where to find us. Dean Branham struck me as intelligent and energetic, and I was reassured that my alma mater is in capable hands. Most of her professional background is in newspapers, so I am, of course, rooting for her.

Dean Branham has a tough act to follow. David Rubin has led the Newhouse School for a long time, and during his tenure a third building was added to Syracuse's communications complex. The university was talking about that building when I was a student there, so his success in bringing it to fruition was a bit like finding the Holy Grail, or constructing the Second Avenue Subway.

I had the opportunity to meet Dean Rubin about five years ago, during a weekend of festivities
marking the 100th anniverary of The Daily Orange, the student newspaper at Syracuse. I confess that whenever I read the material he wrote in alumni newsletters and university publications, I found it anodyne and forgettable. In person, he is an impressive man, and I left that weekend understanding why he was in charge of the school.

As an aside, I had the privilege of being the editor in chief of the Daily Orange during its 75th anniversary celebration. Those of you who are good at math will be able to figure out how old I am.

During the reception at Michael's, I had the chance to catch up with Mark Sullivan, one of my colleagues back in the day at The Daily Orange. We spent most of our time Monday night talking about the Mets.