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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

A.Q. Miller School director position remains open

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Wildcat 91.9 chief operator and faculty advisor Ian Punnett poses with his Distinguished Service Award from the Kansas Association of Broadcasters. With the award on Oct. 22, Punnett entered the KAB Hall of Fame. (Photo courtesy of Wildcat 91.9)
Hailey Case
Wildcat 91.9 chief operator and faculty advisor Ian Punnett poses with his Distinguished Service Award from the Kansas Association of Broadcasters. With the award on Oct. 22, Punnett entered the KAB Hall of Fame. (Photo courtesy of Wildcat 91.9)

Editor’s note: The original story erroneously said Punnett’s position is opened, but it is the director’s position that is open; Punnett’s position has not been listed yet. Additionally, the hiring team reviewed all possible candidates of all experience levels, it just so happened that the finalists for the position lacked previous professional media and student media experience. We have updated this online article with these changes, and we sincerely apologize for the errors.

As the search for a new director for the A.Q. Miller School of Media and Communication begins, Kansas State students and staff feel the absence of late professor Ian Punnett and his years of broadcasting experience.

The application for director of the Miller School opened in spring 2023 when the previous director abruptly left. Carrying on months later, this position, along with Punnett’s teaching position and radio position, put extra work on the shoulders of other faculty.

“We do have an interim director; she has taken care of a lot of the administrative pieces,” Andrew Smith, news and sports media program assistant director, said. “The constant change and rollover has made it difficult for some, but many people have stepped up. When you lose Dr. Punnett you lose all of his knowledge and connections. For me, it feels like a high level of responsibility to find someone with Punnett’s quality.”   

Punnett served as a voice for broadcasting students in the Miller School and operated K-State’s student radio station, KSDB-FM 91.9, a position recently filled by Smith. From December 2023 to present, Heather Woods has served as interim director while the search for a permanent director continues.

“I have greatly enjoyed serving as interim director of the A.Q. Miller School of Media and Communication,” Woods said. “It is an honor to support our exceptional students, faculty and staff, community partners and alumni as they use media and communication to make the world a better place.”

Faculty, staff and students dealt directly with impacts from the unexpected loss. Students like Dawson Wagner, assistant chief operator of Wildcat 91.9, used the knowledge Punnett passed down to carry on. 

Thankfully Ian has taught, trained and mentored so many students over the years at K-State,” Wagner said. “These students can continue by carrying on his legacy. We have a strong executive board, many talented students and committed staff members that will keep carrying the torch forward while honoring Ian and his accomplishments” 

Wagner said he hopes the next director of the Miller School will serve as a voice for students in the college.

“I would hope for a director that is diversified,” Wagner said. “Someone who has spent time in higher education to understand how communication is taught and also implemented in areas such as print, broadcast and marketing.”

To fill the director’s position in a timely manner, the hiring team reviewed all possible candidates.

“The goal for any university is to be up to date and have a good understanding of where the student is,” Smith said. “It is important to me that those in positions have the experience. Without that, it puts a lot more pressure on those regular faculty who are now stepping up into those roles of leadership to carry that torch to champion those students.”

Wagner said students should have a director who can support them and understand their needs as young adults in journalism.

“I think the broadcasting and publications side of the communications programs will be able to maintain regardless of who becomes the director due to the student leadership and faculty already in place for the Collegian, Wildcat 91.9, Royal Purple yearbook, Manhappenin’ Magazine and Channel 8 News,” Wagner said. “But if the goals and efforts of the new director aren’t well educated on what these platforms provide to students then there may be issues that arise.”

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