Tamara Welter, journalism and integrated media chair

A hardworking woman leads passionately through new responsibilities



Samantha Gassaway, Writer

Tamara Welter leads Biola’s media, journalism and public relations department with wisdom and experience. Having taught at a collegiate level beginning during a long-term mission trip to Iceland, her past and passions drew her to find a happy balance between her love for ministry, college students and journalism.

Having just taken up the department chair position last year, Welter’s experience in corporate work adequately prepared her to handle the new responsibilities placed before her. A designer and “tech-y” person by preference, she teaches media convergence courses in addition to her administrative roles.

How has it been settling into the new role of department chair?

“This is a very different role. You come out of a kind of faculty role, where you’re teaching. Full-time faculty, they teach and sit on committees and stuff, but you’re teaching and you move into a position that carries a heavy, heavy role of administrative responsibility. So you kind of have these, it doesn’t matter how many classes you’re teaching. You still take them pretty seriously and you try to take care of your class. So you have this teacher role and you have this administrative role, and there’s a lot of administration requirements on a chair position, at least in our division.”

Having felt all the stress of the last year winding down, how do you feel right in this position starting out this year?

“Someone had asked me the other day about all these [curriculum proposals and administrative reports], and they said, ‘Hey, how are you doing with all of that?’ And I said, ‘You know, I learned to swim a long time ago. And I learned how to swim underwater.’ And right now, with everything that’s needing to be done, my head’s not above the water, but I’m swimming.”

Where does your passion lie in this department?

“I absolutely have a passion for the visual. I have a passion for cultures, for how visuals are received and interpreted based on culture. That’s my whole doctoral studies. So the fact that I get to oversee the cross-cultural concentration and I get to be so intimately involved with the visual concentration, I love that… I carry a passion for the mandate to be truth-seekers, truth-bearers. I think, in our culture, we are so privileged to have that opportunity. Right now, I’m teaching the international journalism class and there’s just so much other countries put on the line to do their job. It’s incredible. I think it’s amazing that we live in this country and we can do what we do. Telling the stories we tell.”

How do you think Biola’s religious foundation affects the department?

“Journalism is one of the most critical areas in our society for us to send Christians and young people into. Part of the reason I think that is because I think they are the ones who are offering analysis and consideration of what parts of everything that is being distributed, everything that’s coming at people, how do you begin to think about those things? So having someone who has a discerning spirit to recognize the truth of things but also to have our eyes — we all come with our own filters, our own worldviews — at least what I would encourage our students to have is a recognition that you carry with you the creator of all things, the Holy Spirit himself, who knows everything and can help as you discern truth and false. As you discern strength and weaknesses. The Holy Spirit can be there to help bring to the surface truths that need to be told.”

You mentioned having a corporate background and experience with administration at other institutions. How did you come to this position from your past experiences?

“I studied journalism, then I went on. My area that I focused on was visual, photography and design, but more design during my undergrad years. I actually trained the first staff who went computer. Desktop Publishing, the very first. We used to do paste-up. Everything was this dinky, smelly chemicals and I was a typesetter back in the day. But I trained the first group, I trained myself with some resources, took some classes when they were first coming out with Adobe Pagemaker. The first staff to do that… I started adjuncting for [the University of Maryland] later on. So, that’s how I ended up bringing those things together in the academic.”

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