Brown went to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin with the intention of earning a master's degree in mass com- munication research and ended up getting a doctorate. Her dissertation, based on surveys of undergraduates, was on how adolescents made career choices and how those decisions were affected by sex roles and interpersonal communication. Her mother died of breast cancer while Brown was in graduate school. "To som
xtent I lived out her life by completin
raduate school" because she never finished college, Brown said. She didn't want to repeat her mother's life- giving up a career for marriage. After graduate school Brown taught briefly at the University of Michigan and then came to UNe. Despite her n1.any commitments, teaching has always been Brown's top priority. She specializes in two courses, "Process and Effects of Mass Communication" and "Current Issues in Mass Media." The for- mer deals with how media work and affect people and culture, while the latter focuses on various topics, such as media and poli- tics, children in advertising, and media por- trayal of minorities and women. Brown is constantly redesigning her courses, both to keep herself interested in the mate- rial and in response to students' comments in the mid-semester evaluations she hands out in class. "That's ilie motivating thing about teaching-you never learn as much as when you teach," Brown said. "It's my first love." In the classroom Brown is energetic and interactive-she calls it the "Phil Donahue style" of teaching. She tells students to call her Jane and deliberately avoids lecturing from behind the podium. Instead she walks around the classroom, addressing each stu- dent by name, including the ones who try to hide in ilie back ofilie room. She encourages everyone to participate in class discussions, and she is careful to use clear, everyday lan- guage to explain difficult concepts.
Jane Brown and family relax at their lakeside home in Chapel Hill. From left to right are Jim Protzman, Lillian
Brown, Alex Protzman, the dog, W ally, and Jane Brown.
"She's so excited about the class and mak-
ing sure we learn, it makes us excited," said
Ryan Coleman, a junior journalism major
from Charlotte. "You're not going to find
a nicer and more understanding teacher."
"She's one of the most interesting pro-
fessors I've had at Carolina," said Kristin
Patterson, a junior journalism major from
Greensboro. "I've told so many people,
'Take Jane Brown. Take Jane Brown.'"
It took Brown a while to develop her
own teaching style and to become com-
fortable with it. She was happiest with her
teaching two years ago when she taught
the current issues class. "It was the best
semester of teaching I've done," she said.
"I was as close to inspirational as I've been.
Three women at the end of that class carne
up to me and said they wanted to be me."
That same year Brown won the journal-
ism school's David Brinkley Teaching
Excellence Award. "I was flattered. I was
totally thrilled," she said.
Brown also has worked closely wiili grad-
uate students as former director of graduate
studies in the journalism school and in
helping design the doctoral program in
mass communication research.
Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll
Brown tries to expose her students to
current research topics and to her own
research. For example, the course "Process
and Effects of Mass Communication" is
largely based on group research projects in
which students learn how to do research on
media topics that interest them.
"If we're claiming iliat our research infonns
our teaching, then we need to do that,"
Brown said. "It's much less important to
She didn't want to repeat her mother's life-giving
a career for marriage.
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