UNC Hussman moves to strengthen, diversify faculty ranks with multiple searches

With a slate of faculty searches this semester, the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media is invested in the future and poised to add significantly to its scholarly and professional depth and expertise — a traditional hallmark of the school.

The school is searching for a Richard Cole Eminent Professor; a Knight Chair in Local News and Sustainability; an open-rank Health Care Communication and Marketing professor; and an open-rank Business Journalism professor. The search for a dean to succeed Dean Susan King began in August after King announced that this will be her last year in the role. She will continue as the John T. Kerr Distinguished Professor at the school.

“This is a time of transition and opportunity and strategic growth in our faculty ranks,” said King, who has served nearly 10 years as dean. “Our faculty, students, staff and alumni create a dynamic and ambitious culture that attracts and welcomes scholars and professionals alike. We are excited about these four faculty searches, which, as all searches, are the purview of our school’s faculty and will be conducted in accordance with the principles of academic freedom to further that culture of excellence.”

That culture has produced 10 collegiate journalism national championships for the school (six in the past seven years) and nine top national doctoral dissertation awards in mass communication. Both records of success are unparalleled among the school’s peers. Advertising and public relations students have continually immersed with industry partners, winning their own collegiate national championship in 2017. Growth in advertising and public relations student enrollment has helped drive the school to becoming the second largest major at the University.

The open faculty positions align with the school’s faculty-developed strategic plan adopted in 2019 — Envisioning Tomorrow — and they signal a commitment to continued excellence and leadership by faculty and students. The school’s mission is to prepare students to ignite the public conversation and to understand the role of communication in fostering democracy. The school embraces the idea that meaningful and productive public conversation depends on the inclusion of diverse perspectives.

The Cole Professor will serve as one of the school’s leading scholars with an expectation to conduct and publish research in top journals and academic presses, secure external resources and enhance the school’s international reputation — in addition to teaching, mentoring students and performing service to the school and University. The search committee welcomes applications from candidates who promote diversity, equity and inclusion of populations and ideas in their research and teaching. Former Cole Professor Daniel Riffe retired in 2020 after a career that earned him prestigious lifetime achievement awards including the Paul J. Deutschmann Award for Excellence in Research by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. The award recognizes significant research over the course of an individual’s career, which for Riffe often meant projects that focused on the role of news coverage in marginalized communities.

The Knight Chair in Local News and Sustainability will work with the school’s Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media that supports local news organizations through applied research on economic sustainability and entrepreneurship, as well as innovative news and digital product solutions. The former Knight Chair affiliated with the center, who retired from the University in 2020, conducted seminal and frequently cited research around the emergence and proliferation of news deserts. A new Knight Chair in Race in Investigative Journalism search is planned for the spring semester.

The Health Communication and Marketing professor, a new position, is a response to the burgeoning professional field and joins a growing hub of health communication work at the school. The faculty member will bring professional expertise in health care communication and marketing strategy and campaign development in addition to teaching courses in a new undergraduate health care communication certificate program. They will engage with health care industry leaders and community partners to connect students with real-world experiences that enhance their education and career preparation. One of the school’s luminary alumnae, Lisa Stockman Mauriello, who recently succumbed to a rare form of ALS, chose the school’s health communication program as the focus of her professional legacy. Her friends, family, colleagues and admirers have contributed nearly $700,000 to support the new certificate program and health communication work at the school.

The Business Journalism professor position fits within the school’s established leadership in producing the nation’s top business journalists, and this search heralds the next era for that discipline within the school. The professor will lead the Business Journalism Certificate, the cornerstone program from which graduates have gone on to jobs at The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Bloomberg News, Reuters and other business media, as well as jobs in corporate communications. The school has also partnered with Bloomberg and University of California Berkeley to administer an international effort to diversify voices in business journalism.

“These new positions leverage investments by foundations and alumni whose commitments to the future of the school empower us to bring in experts from industry and the academy to keep our curriculum fresh and cutting edge. Our new colleagues will reflect the mission of the school and the values of diversity and democracy that are central to our vision,” said King. “These searches are squarely in faculty hands, who are focused on ensuring adherence to academic freedom and appropriate process. Philanthropic and donor perspectives must not and will not play a role in any of our faculty hiring or
appointment decisions.”