By Kaitlyn Seawood
After overseeing the journalism program at NCC for 22 years, professor Rob Hays concluded his tenure at the end of Spring ’22 semester.
Hays acted as reporter and columnist at The Express-Times in Easton for 26 years, including six years as features editor, before an unexpected offer from NCC knocked on his door.
Serving as a mentor to many students, Hays always extended his help to those needing assistance, whether it was how to write a story or how to edit one.
Greg Dante, a student enrolled in the journalism program, discussed the impact Hays had on his professional and personal life while attending NCC.
“There are many professors that can teach you about how to write, but professor Hays is the first one who lit that spark, and I will always be grateful to him for that,” Dante says.
While Hays credits his students for his success, as their successes were also his, he also recognizes his colleagues and faculty for making his time at NCC so memorable.
“We have an outstanding faculty,” Hays says. “Not just that they’re bright and capable, so many personable individuals will take the time to interact with you.”
Adjunct colleague and professor of journalism Eric Chiles has worked beside Hays for the last 14 years. Students who entered the journalism program know him as the face of the program, Chiles says.
“The Commuter and NCC’s Journalism program owes a lot of the success it has experienced because of his direction,” Chiles says.
Hays discussed some of the challenges while teaching the journalism program, the biggest concern being the decline in enrollment. It is predicted that journalism jobs will decline by 4.8% by 2030, after already shrinking from nearly 66,000 workers in 2000 to 52,000 in 2019, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Journalism is up against really tough times with the changing marketplace and influence of technology,” Hays says.
Despite this, Hays remains optimistic for the future of journalism.
“I know journalism is going to do what it’s been doing, which is to weather the storm of this economic turmoil that has to be settled because of the essential need for it in our society,” Hays says.
Dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Christine Pense spoke on Hays’ ability to consistently revise the program for the needs of generations of journalists.
“Rob has been the soul of the program,” Pense says. “Never losing sight of the connection between good democracy and good journalism.”
Hays plans to continue writing, his desire set on the unknown territory of fiction novels. Hays also intends to travel more, with the possibility of visiting Europe again someday.
“I don’t know that I’m retiring. I think and hope I’m shifting into a third career,” Hays says.