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Talking with … Bill Herman

Interviews | Mar 09, 2018 |

Bill HermanEach “Talking with…” feature introduces you to a different Gabelli School faculty member, administrator, or staff member. This week, learn more about Bill Herman, assistant professor of communications and media management.

What do you consider the most important communication skill required for good leadership?
I’d say it’s listening with an open mind and open heart. By the time folks are in a leadership position, they all can tell you what they think. The ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes and tailor your communication to what they need from you—which is not necessarily what they want from you—is what separates the great communicators from the merely good ones.

Is there a way you’ve seen Fordham students use communication recently to help others?
One of our graduate students was just telling me about how she has taken some of the undergraduate students under her wing, mentoring them and serving as a role model. I see this kind of thing all the time on campus.

Can you explain your current research?
I’ve just taken on an exciting new project examining diversity and inclusion, or D&I, curriculum for undergraduate business students. There are a million surveys of campus climate, but very few folks have looked at how to provide the kind of specific, brass-tacks education about how the private sector is trying to promote D&I. As students move into the working world, they’ll first be expected to fit into these efforts, and before long, they’ll be asked to help create or even lead them. We want to understand how best to communicate the business case for D&I, as well as best practices in how to get there. To better understand this, we’re doing focus groups of students, interviews with faculty, a school-wide survey, and a national survey.

What is the most rewarding course you’ve ever taught?
Digital Copyright, an undergraduate course I taught at CUNY’s Hunter College. I taught students to do legal research and writing, how to read and interpret case law, and the fundamentals of copyright. After a few years, I think I was succeeding at all of these goals, and it was a subject that really engaged the students.

Can you share something you think everyone should know about current copyright laws?
Wow, don’t get me started; there’s a lot. If you make me pick one, I’d say that there are no quantitative guidelines for fair use. I often hear this misconception, such as folks who think that they can do anything using 10 percent or less of a copyrighted work. It’s more complicated than that. However, it’s not particle physics; a non-lawyer can get a pretty accurate understanding of fair use with a bit of reading. It’s one of the areas of law that a layperson can and should understand. Here’s a good start: https://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/


Fun questions

Are you looking forward to spring or sad to see winter go?
My reaction to most of New York City’s winter is: This is winter? I grew up in Colorado and even lived in the mountains for a few years, so I really do enjoy it when it’s 45 and sunny. That said, spring in New York is also pretty awesome, and I’m looking forward to more daylight and more consistently being able to get good outside time.

Favorite band:
Tough! I love a whole range of stuff: rock, jazz, bluegrass, electronic, old country. My favorite performer, though, is definitely Wynton Marsalis.

Which Fordham campus means an easier commute for you?
Lincoln Center. I live right by the N/W train in Astoria. But I moved to Astoria because it’s an easy drive to Rose Hill as long as it’s not rush hour.

Best coffee shop in New York City:
New winner here, actually. I just tried Devoción Café in Williamsburg for the first time. If you’re really into coffee, it’s worth going at least once. Before that was La Colombe, which started up in Philly while I was at [the University of Pennsylvania].

You find yourself on a downtown A train leaving the Columbus Circle subway station, on a Saturday. Where do you decide to get off the train?
Get off at Hoyt-Schermerhorn, switch to the C, and go to Clinton/Washington or Franklin Street. Tons of good stuff along those corridors—Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed Stuy, and Prospect Heights. I’ve lived in the city for 10 years now, and seven of them were in Brooklyn, mostly near Prospect Park. I miss it a lot, but I sure don’t miss the drive/train from there to Rose Hill!


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