Mississippi State University’s Department of Communication has named Terry Likes, originally from St. Louis, Missouri, the new department head.
Likes began his college career in business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. After a couple of years, he decided to change his major to broadcasting and returned home to St. Louis to finish at Maryville College, now known as Maryville University.
After working towards his bachelor’s degree, he received his first job at a radio and television station in Kentucky. He then began working at a television station in Evansville, Indiana, while he pursued higher education.
“I started working on my master’s at Western Kentucky. Western Kentucky offered me a faculty job, and that’s how I got started there,” Likes said. “While I was there, at the end of my first year the department head said, ‘You should consider going to get your doctorate.’ I kept teaching, but I was commuting to the University of Kentucky and over a period of time finished my doctorate, and that’s how I moved up to become a tenured full professor.”
After this achievement, Likes wondered what his next goal would be.
“I was a faculty member at Western Kentucky for 20 years. I became the head of the department at Tennessee State University with a program similar to this, but Mississippi State is a much bigger school with a solid foundation, strong program, very good people and further south,” Likes said. “All of those things are things I wanted to do. I was able to use that experience at Tennessee State which helped prepare me to come here to a bigger school.”
Likes became aware of the department head position through instructor Jason Hibbs. Hibbs was one of Likes’s students when Hibbs was pursuing his undergraduate degree at Western Kentucky University.
“I learned so much from him as an undergrad student,” Hibbs said. “He wasn’t just one of those teachers that lectured, he was hands-on. He told us how to do it and showed us how to do it. He was one of the main, if not the main, player at Western Kentucky University. So, many good things about the broadcasting program was because of Dr. Likes. It was in his news writing class that I became certain that this is what I wanted to do for a career, meaning broadcast journalism. I think it was Dr. Likes that really ignited my passion for the industry.”
Former department head John Forde said he believes Likes is very qualified for the job.
“I am very pleased. I think he will do a great job. He is very personable. The faculty like him. I think he will come in and do a wonderful job,” Forde said.
Forde served as department head for 15 years, beginning in 2004. He is now on sabbatical working on research for the fall semester and will return in the spring to teach. Forde’s term as department head ended in June, and Likes started as department head this month.
Hibbs said he believes Likes will do an exceptional job at elevating the prowess of the department and continuing the good work already set in process by Forde.
“We all have a lot of respect for Dr. Forde, and I knew we needed someone who could continue to build on what Dr. Forde has done and pick up where John left off,” Hibbs said. “He is not just a teacher or a department head, but he is constantly contributing to research and winning awards for that. I know he will take all of our concentrations to the next level."
Since starting and even during his interview process, Likes has been trying to determine the faculty’s goals, citing several projects he hopes to improve.
“I wouldn’t say it’s ‘What are my goals?’ but, ‘what are our goals?’ which I think is important,” Likes said. “We have some short-term goals and some long-term goals. For example, a graduate program is a goal, and that’s already a process that is being discussed. I think the faculty are pretty excited about that possibility. Elevating the status of the department as best as we can, more student award winners, more outstanding research, faculty recognition, things of that sort, so we can really make it a program of distinction.”
Likes said he feels this position is something he has been working for years, and he is very excited to be in Starkville and a part of the SEC community.
“Being a part of the SEC, and even more so the SEC West— I think the fact that teams like LSU and Alabama are coming to town this year, I don’t think it gets any better than that,” Likes said. “Being a part of big-time athletics and being a part of big-time academics, it’s a great marriage. I think the biggest thing is, not that I’m surprised, but just how friendly and welcoming everyone has been— from people on campus, to people in the community. It has just been really nice.”