SMPA hopes to select director by April

The School of Media and Public Affairs has narrowed its search for a new director to six candidates and hopes to have one chosen by April.

Selected from an original pool of about 24, the six possible permanent directors will each have an interview with the chair of the search committee, professor Steve Roberts, who is in charge of fielding applications for the position.

“I am very encouraged by the quality of the applications we have received, and I’m confident this selection process will produce an excellent new director for SMPA,” Roberts said.

The search committee would not release the names of any of the applicants.

In recent weeks the SMPA has received about six additional applications for the new director position, Roberts said. The selection committee will meet this week to review and consider Roberts said he anticipates “three or four additional candidates will be added to the semifinalist pool and interviewed personally.”

Once all personal interviews are concluded, the committee will select three or four finalists whom SMPA faculty and University administrators will interview in depth.

Roberts said he expects final interviews to be conducted in March and that he hopes the school will have a new director by April.

Neither of last year’s top two candidates – Marvin Kalb, a national media personality, and Robert Entman, the author of several mass media books and a professor of communications at North Carolina State University – were chosen for the school’s top position.

Kalb, who has strong ties to the University through his GW-sponsored program “The Kalb Report,” withdrew himself from the race in late April 2005, citing frustration over the lengthy selection process. Entman, the remaining candidate, said he was not offered the director post but has joined GW’s faculty as an SMPA professor this semester.

Kalb and Entman represented the divide within the SMPA faculty that has contributed to the long and drawn out two-year search process. While some professors favor a hands-on media approach at SMPA, others are pushing for a more theory-based curriculum.

In December, Roberts announced new criteria for the search to encourage candidates with practical work experience in the news media field to apply for the directorship. Candidates are no longer required to have a doctorate degree to be eligible for the position. Roberts, himself a veteran journalist, said in December that last year’s unsuccessful search for a permanent director was focused heavily on candidates with high academic credentials.

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