A different focus: Japan-based photographer shares communication expertise through TrineOnline

Trine University faculty bring a breadth of experience to the classroom, and the advent of high-speed internet has allowed the university to increase the expertise available to students through TrineOnline.

One faculty member literally teaches from halfway around the world.

Ben Weller, an adjunct faculty member with TrineOnline, is a journalist who has lived and worked in east Asia for 15 years. Based in Nagoya, Japan, since 2015, Weller has had recent work published in National Geographic Traveller (UK).

“Japan is a beautiful country, and I’ll never tire of exploring here, camera in hand,” he said.

Weller grew up in North Manchester, Indiana. He spent a few years teaching in South Korea after finishing college, then returned to attend graduate school in journalism at Indiana University, intending to become a writer.

“A visual communication class really inspired me and I changed trajectories, putting the focus more on photography,” he said. “By the time I finished grad school, I was shooting regularly for a magazine in Bloomington, and had shot assignments for The Washington Post and The Chronicle of Higher Education.”

He worked for a while as a communication intern for an energy cooperative in Bloomington, shooting photos and writing for several of its publications. While it was valuable experience, he said he was “itching for travel.”

He moved back to South Korea, where he taught photography, image editing, film studies, business communication and English conversation at a university.

At the same time, he was building his freelance portfolio, shooting photos for Reuters, the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and multiple travel and trade publications.

He met his wife, a college professor, while both were living and working in Busan, South Korea. After they married, they moved to Nagoya for her work.

Besides photography, his loves include teaching, and when he moved to Japan, Weller wanted to continue working with students. Teaching through TrineOnline provided the flexibility he needed to grow his journalism career while teaching classes that align with his education, work experience and interests.

“Keeping one foot in the teaching world and the other in the media world is synergistic,” he said. “Through my teaching, I’m able to keep up with trends, topics and theories in the world of media and communication. My work as a journalist enhances my skills and provides real-world experience that I can take back to the classroom to share with students.”

A typical day sees him up at 5 a.m., starting a pot of coffee and checking email.

“Student emails get priority, and I flag other important emails for follow-up later in the day,” he said.

He is currently taking a Japanese class, so he tries to get an hour of study in before his kids wake up. From 9 a.m., he’s in the office grading, checking discussions, recording videos and working on course development.

Any hours left in the afternoon are spent working on story pitches, editing and research. In the evening, once his children are asleep, he goes through emails again and watches a movie if he has time.

“I teach Film Appreciation through TrineOnline, so watching movies is a job requirement,” he said.

He noted this schedule “goes out the window” during midterms and finals, and that he may work out of a hotel or on the train when he’s on assignment.

“I’ve recorded weekly videos for my students from Seoul, Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo,” he said.

Though he may be in a far different location than many of his TrineOnline students, he said he has much in common with many of them.

“As a working parent, I understand the challenges that come with raising kids, holding down a job and going to school,” he said. “Having lived and taught overseas for close to 20 years, I’m familiar with diverse learning and communication styles. I understand that all our students have strengths and face challenges, and I think my experiences help me identify those and work with each learner to help them succeed.”

Through his own experiences learning online, he is conscious of being responsive to students. Although he initially worried about the time difference between Japan and the U.S., he said it has been an asset.

“I’m typically settling into my office in the morning,” he said. “That’s the evening back in Indiana, when a lot of my students are getting home from practice or work, and they’re just logging into Moodle. I’m able to answer any of their emails in real time or jump on a Zoom call to talk them through a question or an assignment.”

He appreciates the investment TrineOnline makes in its faculty.

“I’ve taken the Online Faculty Certification Course (OFCC) and the Applying the Quality Matters Rubric (APPQMR) workshop, both of which increased my value as an educator and benefited my students,” he said. “We have faculty development meetings on Zoom, which are a great source of ideas for increasing student engagement, getting the most out of Moodle, etc. I’ve worked at other universities where there isn’t this focus on continual growth. Trine invests in its educators, and I feel valued here.”

Clayton & McKervey Expands Office and Introduces State-of-the Art Lifesize Technology

Clayton & McKervey, an international accounting and business advisory firm servicing growth-driven middle market companies, has recently expanded its offices to accommodate the firm’s steady growth. The firm also significantly enhanced its technology through the installation of LifeSize, a state-of-the-art communication tool.

The renovation was completed in April 2016 in the firm’s Southfield, Mich. offices, located in the 2000 tower of the Town Center. It features enhanced meeting room and collaboration space. Clayton & McKervey moved into its current location in 2007 after outgrowing its former suite, also located in Southfield. The firm currently employs 65 global tax and accounting professionals.

“Our employees are already benefitting from the larger collaboration space, including a multi-purpose area which accommodates firm meetings and trainings,” said Trudy Thornsberry, vice president of operations for Clayton & McKervey.

During construction, the firm took the opportunity to equip a dozen offices and conference rooms with LifeSize technology to expand opportunities for face-to-face communication across town, or across the globe. Featuring wall-mounted monitors and encrypted messaging, LifeSize will serve as a daily tool to augment the firm’s international travel and client meetings.

Clayton & McKervey is a metro Detroit-based accounting and business advisory firm helping growth-driven entrepreneurial companies compete in the global marketplace. The firm was established in 1953 and is headquartered in metro Detroit and services clients throughout Europe, China, North America and South America. To learn more, visit claytonmckervey.com.

Franco Public Relations Group Announces New Clients and Promotions

DETROIT (May 2, 2013) – Franco Public Relations Group, a full service public relations agency based in Detroit since 1964, has added four businesses to its client mix.

  • Allied Printing Company – Allied is a full-service printing company pushing the envelope with new equipment, technology and methods to provide prints that pop.
  • INERGY – INERGY is the global leading tier one supplier of fuel systems and emission control systems.
  • Michigan International Speedway (MIS) – Located in Brooklyn, Mich., MIS is a 1,400-plus acres scenic track where NASCAR fans can enjoy the best in racing.
  • Powers Distributing – Powers is a local leader in beer distribution, sustainably and responsibly serving customers in Macomb and Oakland counties.

“Our new clients really reflect the breadth of Franco’s capabilities and the industries we serve,” said Tina Kozak, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Whether it’s the latest in offset printing technology, the newest craft brew or the next big race, Franco’s clients depend on us to help them connect their products with the audiences that matter most.”

Franco promotes four to leadership positions
Franco has announced four promotions – Pat Adanti-Joy, APR and Tina Benvenuti Sullivan to vice president and Stephanie Casola and Joe Ferlito to account manager.

Adanti-Joy manages Franco’s nonprofit clients and oversees marketing and communications projects. She is an accredited (APR) member of the Public Relations Society of America and holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Michigan. She resides in Sterling Heights, Mich.

Sullivan manages several of Franco’s auto/tech and professional services accounts. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Michigan. She resides in Troy, Mich.

Casola manages a variety of Franco’s retail and consumer clients and serves as Franco’s social media strategist. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University and resides in Ferndale, Mich.

Ferlito manages Franco’s healthcare and technology accounts and provides video production services for many of the agency’s clients. Ferlito holds a Bachelor of Science in advertising and public relations from Grand Valley State University. He resides in Livonia, Mich.

They all serve on the agency’s Leadership Team and support business development.

“Promoting from within is core to our culture,” said Maria Leonhauser, president of Franco. We mentor and support leadership opportunities within our team. Pat, Tina, Stephanie and Joe have clearly demonstrated their commitment to excellence on behalf of our clients.”

About Franco
Established in 1964 in Detroit, Franco is Michigan’s oldest independent public relations firm. Its services include media relations, social media, crisis management, community relations, event planning and branding. Franco represents clients in manufacturing, retail, technology, nonprofit, professional services, entertainment and health care. For more information, visit www.franco.com.

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