Dr. Becker and Dr. Sobowale, August 2003, with the portrait of James M. Cox Jr. in the background.

Cox Center Director Is Visited By Nigerian Educator--a Former Student

Fifteen years after they had last seen each other, Cox Center Director Dr. Lee B. Becker and Dr. Idowu Sobowale got back together in August and immediately started discussing how they can work together again in the future.

Dr. Sobowale, dean of the newly created Adebola Adegunwa School of Communication at Lagos State University in Nigeria, spent two days at the University of Georgia, meeting with faculty and administrators of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and visiting campus media.

Dr. Sobowale came to the University of Georgia to meet with Dr. Becker and to learn about the work of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, which Dr. Becker directs. The Cox Center is a unit of the Grady College.

Dr. Becker and Dr. Sobowale,
pictured in August of 1977.

As a result of the visit, Dr. Sobowale and Dr. Becker agreed to collaborate on research and training programs in the near future.

The two first met in 1975, when Dr. Becker was starting his career as a faculty member in the S.I. Newhouse School of Communication at Syracuse University and Dr. Sobowale was beginning his doctoral studies there. The two worked together on a number of research projects; Dr. Becker supervised Dr. Sobowale's doctoral studies.

At the invitation of Dr. Sobowale, Dr. Becker served as an outside examiner for the Department of Communication at the University of Lagos in 1987. Dr. Sobowale spent much of his career on the faculty at the University of Lagos, twice serving as head of department.

He also served as special adviser on education to the governor of Lagos State and, in that capacity, brought a delegation to visit Dr. Becker at Ohio State University in 1988. Dr. Becker was on the faculty of the School of Journalism at Ohio State from 1977 to 1997.

Dr. Sobowale, who began his career as a journalist for the Daily Times in Lagos, also has been a magazine journalist, editor in chief of Republic newspaper (another Lagos daily), owner and publisher of a weekly newspaper (Searchlight), head of a communication consulting firm, and Commissioner for Education of Lagos State.

Dr. Sobowale took over as the first dean of the School of Communication at Lagos State in June. The program enrolls about 300 students and has a faculty of 11. The university has about 35,000 students.

Dr. Kent Middleton, Dr. Tudor Vlad and Dr. Sobowale walking and talking after lunch together.

"I have a vision of where I want to go," Dr. Sobowale said of the program. "I want to produce students who can go into the job market without assistance–without retraining." In addition, Dr. Sobowale said, "In two years, I want to be the best school of communication in Nigeria."

Dr. Sobowale was in the U.S. to visit friends when, after locating Dr. Becker via the Internet, he sent off an electronic mail message asking if he could visit the Cox Center. Dr. Becker and Dr. Sobowale had been in only sporadic contact in recent years.

"Seeing Idowu again was a wonderful experience," Dr. Becker said. "We were together for five minutes and it was as if we had never been apart."

Dr. Becker said that communicating by regular mail has been difficult and undependable. "I'm hoping we have figured out a way now to stay closer in contact and to once again work together," he said.