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BOV member spotlight – Dhyana Ziegler

In each issue of the Circle Park News, we feature one or more members of the CCI Board of Visitors through a Q&A session. Dr. Lady Dhyana Ziegler is this issue’s featured member.
Dhyana earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Baruch College at the City University of New York. She went on to earn a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. She is currently a Professor of Journalism at Florida A&M University (FAMU).  

Prior to joining FAMU, Dhyana served as Professor of Broadcasting at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville as well as the Associate Director for Diversity Resources and Educational Services. Dhyana was the first African-American to be elected President of the UTK Faculty Senate and later was a charter inductee into the University’s African-American Hall of Fame.

Dhyana is the author of two books and several book chapters; worked for various mass media entities prior to joining higher education; was named Genius Laureate in 2005 by the American Biographical Institute and served as Ambassador for the USA at the Inaugural World Forum in 2006. In 2008, Dhyana was knighted as a Dame of Justice by Chivalric Order of the Knights of Justice at the University of Cambridge in England.

CCI – How and when did you first get involved (on a volunteer basis) with CCI?

Dhyana – I became involved with CCI in 2007 after learning Dr. Michael Wirth had become Dean of the College. I’ve known Dean Wirth for several years and highly respect him as an educator, professional, and individual. I wanted to support his leadership as well as his vision for the College so I accepted an appointment to the Board of Visitors.  Dean Wirth is an outstanding leader. Additionally, the foundation of my career was built at UTK and I love the University. It was a wonderful and enriching experience for me.  The BOV gave me an opportunity to reconnect with the institution.

CCI – In your view, what is the most important or impactful role you’ve played as a volunteer?

Dhyana – Volunteerism is an ongoing activity, so I believe my most important or impactful role is still being measured. Having said that, my years of experience as a former faculty member of the College, UTK administrator under the Office of the Chancellor, UTK Faculty Senate President, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs at Florida A&M University, FAMU Acting VP of Research and Director of the Office of International Education and Development bring an inside view on higher education issues to the BOV table from several perspectives. However, I believe my greatest role is supporting faculty and students.  

CCI – Why have you chosen to support the college (financially and/or with your time)?  Why do you see this as important?  

Dhyana – This is the information age and society continues to have evolving expectations. As technology continues to take center stage in our lives and social networking sites are gateways for communication, the role of CCI in producing future leaders and a skilled workforce to feed the needs of this information age is challenging. The competition is high for graduates, and higher education budgets are shrinking. So CCI needs financial support, human capital and collective consciousness to help chart its course.

CCI – What do you hope to accomplish during your term with the BOV?

Dhyana – First of all, I would like to be an advocate for CCI and assist in articulating its needs from a faculty, staff, and student perspective. While many of the BOV are industry leaders, I serve in a unique capacity because I am an academician. Higher education is very complex with many challenges, and development dollars are more difficult to obtain. I would like to spend more time with the CCI faculty and students to increase my understanding of the desired goals and objectives of the College. While there is always a need to increase resources and build a strong support system in this economic environment, these goals must be built in concert with faculty and students needs.  

CCI – Is there anything exciting or interesting going on “behind the scenes” in CCI that the average alum might not be aware of?

Dhyana – There is always something interesting going on “behind the scenes” in CCI among the talented faculty, staff and students. The halls are filled with innovation!

CCI – If someone is considering volunteerism as a way to “give back” to the University, what advice would you have for them? Why should they do it?

Dhyana – First of all, a person should want to give back as a way of supporting something he or she has enjoyed along the path. Second, it’s important to give back because it makes you feel good inside because you’re making a contribution to someone else’s future. Third, we should also give back to ensure “sustainability.” As the proverb says, “it takes a village to raise a child.” We are living in a global society where we are interdependent on each other for sustainability. Haiti’s earthquake serves as a reminder to all of us why it’s important to volunteer and give back. It’s just the right thing to do. We have to share humanity.

CCI – What from your UT and CCI experience has “stuck with you” during life?

Dhyana – Although I was a professor and not a student, the friendships and relationships I built over the years at UT will always be special to me. A part of my spirit will always remain at UT because I love the College and University as a whole. And of course, there’s nothing like UT football and women’s basketball.  

CCI – What is your favorite memory from your time at UT?

Dhyana – I have so many fond memories of UT. I enjoyed producing television news shows with my students and seeing them grow in the profession. Local television stations used to hire my students while they were still in my classes, and I was also an on-air talent for one of the local stations. This was a great compliment to our program at that time. The College is a great feeder program for the news industry. As a professor, there is nothing like being able to see the fruits of your labor unfolding in front of your eyes. I really enjoyed the talented undergraduate and graduate students that I worked with over the years. Additionally, I worked with some wonderful colleagues at CCI.

CCI – Anything else you’d like to share?

Dhyana – Regardless of the challenges ahead and the economy, CCI must remain strong and committed to its mission and vision. Producing graduates who understand the core values of communication and information in a global society must continue to be the goal of CCI. It is producing human capital to ensure our future in the industry.