JACKSON, Tenn. – Nov. 10, 2010 – Chris Blair, associate professor of communication arts and coordinator of the digital media studies program at Union, recently finished his one-year term as president of the International Digital Media and Arts Association.
IDMAA is an organization formed to encourage mutually beneficial relationships in the field of digital media and arts between academics and professionals and between faculty and administration in higher education.
For the past year, Blair sought to recognize and meet the needs of the members of the IDMAA as they made headway in the relatively new field of digital media and arts.
Blair began his term as president in November 2009 and relinquished it at the IDMAA convention Nov. 4-6 in Vancouver, Canada. During the convention, he was elected chairman of the IDMAA board.
Since its inception in 2003, Blair has been involved with the organization in many roles, including secretary, treasurer, webmaster, coordinator for the membership committee and a board member. At the 2009 convention, he received the Distinguished Service Award for his willingness to fill any role.
The organization began with representatives from 15 schools. Since then, the membership has grown at the same fast pace as the field of digital media and arts itself. Not only does the organization now have more than 100 individual or university members, but it has come to represent the hundreds of students and faculty in higher education pursuing a career in digital media and arts.
One of the initiatives during Blair’s term as president sought to discover how many digital media and arts programs were offered in higher education in America. The research revealed that more than 700 programs currently serve 80,000 students in the United States.
Blair helped to make Union’s DMS major first available to students in 2000, when academic programs to prepare students for the new field were few and far between.
The IDMAA had a “huge impact,” Blair said, in helping him to develop a quality DMS program, because it allowed him to sit at the same table with coordinators of similar majors at state schools and other private institutions.
Union students in the major choose an emphasis in computer science, art or communication arts. The interdisciplinary nature of digital media and arts is a hurdle for many schools who wish to create similar majors because they experience difficulties working between departments, Blair said.
“I very quickly realized that our interdisciplinary structure was a strength,” he said. “Union is an exception, not the norm, but I think that is what we are called to do — to represent Christian higher education to the academic community at large.”
By Samantha Adams ('13)