An Interview with Dr. Christopher Beaudoin

Don’t let Dr. Christopher Beaudoin’s still-sparse office fool you. The new chairman of COM’s Department of Mass Communication, Advertising, and Public Relations is settling in nicely since taking the reins on July 1, 2016. He arrived at Boston University from Texas A&M University, attracted by BU’s strong emphasis on research and practice. “We have incredible researchers and incredible practitioners at BU. For me, it’s important to have both, and I like it when there is a whole continuum of research and practice,” he said.

Additionally, he was drawn to Boston because of its unique value as a city. “As a place to live and a place to raise my kids, it’s great. It’s diverse and has a large media market. We have a great university in a great city. It is great to build professional connections and to meet students,” he added.

Dr. Beaudoin arrived at the College of Communication with a unique background and a similarly unique position in the school. Not only was he arriving as a new faculty member, he also has the responsibilities of chairing the department and leading the department’s seasoned faculty. “I was looking for a good fit and that was key. I visited a couple times last year, and it was clear there was a need in the department to have someone come in and help move it forward,” he said. The potential to continue his research on media campaigns at the BU furthered his ambition to secure the position.

Dr. Beaudoin’s interests in practice and research stem from his own background. As a Peace Corps member in Lesotho, he worked in the public health sector. After completing his Peace Corps service, Dr. Beaudoin worked in broadcasting and journalism for a few years and cultivated an affinity for communication that drives health outcomes, particularly in the areas of youth development and cancer prevention. “It was sort of a mix of things that were communication-related and also included health,” he said. “I became a researcher and chose to study media as a mechanism that drive health outcomes.”

Before BU, he was a core director for the CDC-funded Center for Community Health Development at Texas A&M and was the Usdin Family Professor of Community Health Sciences at Tulane University.

His previous experience helped him settle in to BU but he still envisions a great learning curve in the coming months. “A large part of my job in the beginning is just coming in and listening –what does the faculty do, what do they see as strengths and weaknesses in the department, what are our challenges and opportunities?” Based in what he has learned, he is starting to formulate with faculty a set of collective goals for the department.

He said his main short term goal is making sure the “trains run on time.” This includes class schedules for all public relations, advertising, and mass communications classes, as well as ensuring faculty have enough time to focus on their research and meet with students. Some of his larger goals include using a new scheduling system in the fall and reviewing the entire department curricula to ensure they’re moving in the right direction and courses are all up to date.

Although he is looking ahead to the future of BU, he is also looking ahead to January when he will begin to teach both undergraduate and graduate students. One of his favorite parts of BU is faculty and staff. “They are incredibly experienced, talented, committed, and hardworking,” he said. “It was fairly daunting to come in and be part of the faculty and help move the department forward.” Daunting as his move and introduction to BU may have been, he has found a new home here at BU and is looking forward to meeting more students when they pile into his classroom next semester.

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