Meet our faculty member Tim Underhill, a Lecturer of Telecommunications at Ball State University who seeks to inspire his students year after year. His work in digital storytelling has reached a variety of networks, including CNN, NBC, ABC, ESPN, CBS, FOX, and The Big Ten Network, attracting notice for several awards, even from The Emmy’s. Through these experiences, he has harnessed the tools to prepare students for their turn in the spotlight; prepping them to do their best and be their best, with the latest and greatest technology. In this faculty spotlight, Tim reflects on his time here at Ball State and shares his excitement for his student’s future.
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What are you most proud of, as a Faculty Member of Ball State?
The success of our students. They will graduate, typically, two years ahead of other students who did not attend Ball State University. They have learned how to do the work and put it into practice on campus, especially those those that get involved with student media because they have real world experience that puts them ahead of others. That, I’m very proud of.
How have advancements in technology altered your means of instruction?
I teach a lot of introductory classes so a lot of freshmen had me for beginning multimedia video, for example. It’s fun because while we use the latest and greatest in technology, the foundations go back a long time ago even before we had video or film. The same storytelling techniques that we had back then, I’m teaching the students now. However, today, they have all these other varieties of things they can do and technology makes the job easier.
The advancements in technology have leveled the playing field. It doesn’t take a lot of equipment to make visually appealing and sounding stories. It’s what you do with it. That’s what makes the difference. Anybody can pick up a smartphone and shoot video but being able to make it indistinguishable from what you see on television or at the cinema is what makes our students stand out.
Our technology at Ball state is pretty cool, it’s pretty neat. The newsroom, the studio, the Unified Media Lab has some of the greatest equipment to put our students ahead of others. It’s technology they’ll use once they graduate.
Are you involved in any clubs at Ball State?
There’s a program called Waking Up with Cardinal Weather. I’m going to tell the story because I like telling the story.
Several years ago I had a class at 8 o’clock in the morning, I’m walking by the studio around 7:30AM; the lights are on in the studio, there are people in the control room, in the newsroom. So I say, “What’s going on? It’s 7:30 on a Friday morning. What students in their right mind are up this early?”. I checked in to find out they were putting together Waking Up with Cardinal Weather. They said, “We want to do a show!” like the little rascals.
I loved their enthusiasm, their initiative to demonstrate that they can put on a program. They were TCOM, journalism, meteorology students, all coming together every Friday morning! They asked me to be their faculty advisor so that’s what I am. I make sure they have what they need to put on a live show, every Friday morning. It covers weather, science, climate, news related stories and they have a blast doing it! They do a great job.
It’s that initiative that’s going to set them apart later on. I think every station in Indianapolis has one of our former students and elsewhere like South Bend, Terre Haute, Fort Wayne, all over. I’m very proud of them.
What do you think is most important about Ball State?
Our faculty. I look around and I see colleagues who come from the networks, professional careers, filmmaking, and they continue to be active and practice their craft. We have a very impressive set of faculty, far above anyone else that I know. If you were to line up them all up and look up their credentials, you would be very impressed.
I find it very unusual that our faculty often collaborates with other departments at Ball State. If they need a video they know who to contact, if they are looking for a presentation they know who to contact. We put students in those departments on those projects because they have that quality of work.