Communication Department Chair to Lead Institute for Arts and Humanities

Patricia Parker

Among her other campus leadership roles, Professor Patricia Parker co-chairs UNC’s Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward with history Professor James Leloudis. (Jon Gardiner ’98/UNC)

Patricia Parker has been named the next director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. Her four-year term will begin July 1.

Parker, chair of the department of communication since 2015, has been a member of the Carolina faculty since 1998. Her research and teaching focus on social justice leadership and decolonizing organizational communication processes. Communication is one of the largest departments in the division of fine arts and humanities, and it is home to roughly 450 majors and 50 graduate students. Parker is a professor of critical organizational communication studies and director of the Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research.

The Institute for the Arts and Humanities works with faculty to cultivate leadership and create and promote community through its programs that build mentoring networks for faculty at all stages of their careers. Its work also includes the Faculty Fellows Program and the Academic Leadership Program, and it sponsors conferences, lectures and public conversations.

Parker, who will be the first person of color to hold this post, will succeed Professor Andrew Perrin, who has been the Ruel W. Tyson Distinguished Professor of sociology. Perrin is leaving UNC to accept a position at Johns Hopkins University.

Parker co-chairs, with history Professor James Leloudis ’77 (’89 PhD), UNC’s Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward; that 15-member panel was convened by Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz in January 2020. As the inaugural director of faculty diversity initiatives for the College of Arts and Sciences (2012-15), Parker developed the College of Arts and Sciences’ diversity liaison program, catalyzing a network of critically engaged faculty leaders working for equity and inclusive excellence in their respective departments.

She also is founder and executive director of the Ella Baker Women’s Center for Leadership and Community Activism, a community-based not-for-profit organization building community power for social change and supporting girls’ and women’s leadership development. Her most recent book, published in November 2020, is Ella Baker’s Catalytic Leadership: A Primer on Community Engagement and Communication for Social Justice.

Parker’s work has been recognized with numerous honors, including the UNC Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award for teaching in 2013, the University Diversity Award in 2014 and the National Communication Association’s Engaged Scholars Service Award (organizational communication) in 2010. She received her bachelor of arts degree in speech communication at Arkansas Tech University, her master’s degree from California State University and her doctorate in communication studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

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