SMPA considers Kalb

Former CBS and NBC correspondent and current host of The Kalb Report Marvin Kalb is one of two candidates being considered to take over the School of Media and Public Affairs.

The SMPA’s top post still remains vacant as GW approaches the end of the academic year. The prolonged search for a new dean has been on for about a year.

At the February Board of Trustees meeting, President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said the hunt was stagnating and added that the six-member search committee headed by SMPA interim director Steve Livingston was asked to “go back and double up on (their) efforts.”

Since that time the group – made up of three SMPA faculty members, representatives from the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs and an outside advisory board – has narrowed the field of applicants to two candidates after a third top applicant withdrew his application for “personal reasons,” Livingston said. He declined to name the contender other than Kalb being considered for the position.

The search committee met Tuesday to give its final recommendation to the SMPA faculty.

“Our recommendations express well-reasoned preferences that don’t necessarily exclude any one (candidate) but rather only rank them in order,” Livingston said.

Livingston said the two candidates are “very accomplished professionals in the field of media and politics” and added that the search committee is impressed with their credentials.

“We couldn’t be happier with the quality of those who have stepped forward to be considered,” he said.

Trachtenberg declined to comment on the status of the search and the role of the director.

In the job description advertised in national newspapers and academic journals, Livingston and his group called for an “ideal applicant in the midst of a distinguished career that prominently features the consideration of the media and policy, politics and public life.”

A number of journalism professors refused to comment on the qualifications necessary for a new director and the potential benefits and drawbacks of attracting a big-name media figure to the school. One professor said he was specifically instructed not to comment on the issue.

Kalb, who has hosted the GW-sponsored “Kalb Report” since 1994, said he recently visited campus to interview for the position, and hopes to learn of the University’s final decision by the end of the month.

The 74-year-old Kalb added that if he is offered the job, he will accept the position “with great pleasure.” He is a fellow and the founding director of Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy and the Harvard Kennedy School’s director of Washington programs.

Kalb would not elaborate on responsibilities he would take on or changes he would make to the school saying he would wait until a decision was made.

Once the search committee makes its recommendations to the SMPA faculty, the staff as a whole will then recommend their choice to the central University administration, Livingston said.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald Lehman, who will make the final decision with William Frawley, dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, said he expects the new director to be in place by July 1.

Livingston has held the temporary director position all year as the SMPA searches for a new head to replace former director Albert May. May left GW last year to research politics, media and the presidential election.

Before his departure, May announced that the SMPA would undergo curriculum changes to help focus the school’s mission. A taskforce comprised of outside media professionals and SMPA staff suggested phasing out the electronic media major while expanding the journalism program.

“The SMPA faculty has worked hard this year to bring about a smooth reorganization of the school,” Livingston said.

He added that the new SMPA director will help faculty members continue to implement the taskforce’s recommended changes.

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