Milagros (Millie) Rivera is an associate professor in the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore. From 1993 to 1999 she was an assistant professor in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida, U.S.A. She was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 1999. In 2000 she became a tenured associate professor in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University, U.S.A.; and in 2002 Dr. Rivera accepted a visiting fellowship with the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore. She became the Program's head in 2004, running the deparmtent until June 30, 2012.
After becoming CNM’s head, Dr. Rivera obtained a SGD$1.6 million grant to add a stream in communication management (public relations) and another in interactive media (game/interactive/visual design and human-computer interaction) and led the revision of the department’s curriculum, which were phased-in over three years. She also hired a diverse and multidisciplinary team of lecturers from more than 15 countries in areas such as computing, human computer interaction, engineering, game and visual design, digital/traditional art, music, social psychology, cognitive psychology, economics, media studies, communications, public relations, and health communications. Under her leadership, CNM became one of the largest departments in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore—CNM had roughly 200 undergraduate majors and about 3 graduate students in August 2004; as of 2012 it has over 800 undergraduate students, which include about 40 double-degree students with the School of Business and about 30 graduate students. In addition, her efforts led to CNM receiving more than 20 teaching awards since 2005 at both the faculty and university levels.
Since Dr. Rivera became CNM's Head in 2004, the teaching staff grew from 8 to about 30, plus 3 adjunct lecturers, 9 full- time teaching assistants and a host of part time lecturers and lab (mostly writing) tutors. As of March 2012, two professors have been tenured and promoted, one was tenured and three are undergoing review for tenure and promotion.
Dr. Rivera mobilized undergraduate students to organize a student society, promoted the creation of an internship program for undergraduate students and liaised with professional organizations, such as the Institute of Public Relations of Singapore, to promote student membership. She also created an Industry Advisory Council that provides input into CNM's curriculum, facilitates internships for students and actively supports professional and mentorship activities for undergraduate students and spent countless hours developing relationships with top leaders of the media industry in Singapore. She has also strengthened CNM’s relationship with the School of Computing and the Faculty of Engineering. Currently, CNM reserves seats for students from these two faculties and they reciprocate, allowing for students to take courses in various areas of digital media and design.
In addition, under Dr. Rivera's leadership CNM opened all its media design and communication management students’ final class projects to the public (within NUS as well as invited guests from the government and industry). The objective is to allow students the opportunity to do poster presentations and interact with members of the media industry. This is part of CNM's effort to provide students with opportunities for experiential learning beyond the classroom (e.g. Contrast 24-hour Game Design Competition; Random Blends Multimedia Exhibition, Bluegrapes Advertising Competition, etc.). This has resulted in CNM's students submitting their projects to international user experienced design conferences, such as the Computer Human Interaction (CHI) Conference, and winning top international awards for their submissions despite being the only ones without a background in computing.
Dr. Rivera also developed a Research Talks Series for graduate students and faculty members and promoted a culture of research in the department. As a result, professors and graduate students are presenting papers in top international/refereed conferences at an unprecedented rate. In addition, CNM went from having a fund of research grants of roughly $113,000 SGD from 2003-2006 to over $2.8 million SGD from 2006-2010, more than two-thirds coming from external organizations such as the Media Development Authority, the National Research Foundation, and the International Research Development Centre, among others. More external grants are under review, most of them bringing together researchers from CNM, Computing, Public Health and other academic units in NUS in what has become a model of interdisciplinary collaborations at NUS.
Finally, in December 2008 Dr. Rivera led an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences to collaborate with a team of researchers from the NUS School of Computing (led by NUS Vice Provost Prof. Bernard Tan) to write a $10 million grant proposal for the creation of CoSMIC or Center of Social Media Innovations for Communities. The Media Development Authority of Singapore approved the grant in 2010. The grant aims to fund research that will develop social media applications and technology for, and conduct social science research to understand the social media needs of, the people of India.
Teaching areas: Regulation of information and communication technologies (ICTs), new media and society, mobile media, internet regulation, computer/ICT-related crime and governance of ICTs.
Research areas: Regulatory efficiency, ICT policy, online privacy, e-government, youth and new media/mobile phone use/appropriation in developing countries. Her research interest centers in the Asia Pacific Region and South Africa.
Publications: Dr. Rivera's work has been published in Communication Education, Science Technology and Society, Communications of the AMC, New Media and Society, Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Journalism and Mass Communication Monographs, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journalism History, The Urban Lawyer, Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal, Federal Communications Law Journal, World Internet Law Report, Communications and the Law, Cuadernos de Información (a Chilean academic journal), Asian Pacific Law and Policy Journal, Media Asia and Asian Journal of Communication. From 1999 to 2003, she was the author of the broadcast regulation chapter in Communication and the Law, a media law book published by Vision Press, U.S.A.