J-school Dean Search to Begin Again

The search for a new dean for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication is back at square one.

The school had been courting Gerald Baldasty, chair of the department of communication at the University of Washington, for the deanship. Though Baldasty’s reasons for ultimately declining to come to UNC were unclear, he had received a counteroffer from UW, according to officials in the school.

With Baldasty’s decision, the seven-month search that began in September ended without fruition. Starting July 1, Senior Associate Dean Tom Bowers, who is retiring next year, will serve as interim dean until a new person is found for the position. Current Dean Richard Cole will step down June 30 from the post he has held for 26 years.

A new search committee will begin the new selection process in June. Bernadette Gray-Little, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, is chairing the committee, made up of five faculty, a staff member and an undergraduate student from the journalism school; a professor from the Kenan-Flagler Business School; and three media professionals.

One consideration in judging candidates is how the new dean can balance the professional and academic aspects of the school’s curriculum. In the first search, two of the five finalists were newspaper professionals and the others, including Baldasty, were from academia. Candidates from the previous search could be reconsidered.

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