UNC taps GW professor for dean post

GW professor Jean Folkerts has been named dean of the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Folkerts was chosen over two other finalists and will take office in Chapel Hill in July.

“I’m looking forward to such a large arena at a prominent school within a prominent university,” Folkerts, who also once served as the School of Media and Public Affairs director, told The Hatchet.

Folkerts replaces John Bowers, who is retiring after 26 years as dean. The school Folkerts is set to head has 47 full-time faculty positions, 24 staff positions and a student body of 1,200. It is considered one of the best schools of its kind in the country, but Folkerts said she is certain new challenges will present themselves.

“We have to deal with the great changes taking place in the news industry,” she said. “Journalism schools must stay oriented toward the future.”

John Kuka, the assistant dean for communications at UNC, said the school is excited to have chosen Folkerts. After 16 years at GW, Folkerts conceded that it will be hard to leave the University behind.

“There are a lot of friends and colleagues I will miss,” she said. “My husband and daughter are both GW alums, and we’ll always have great loyalty toward the Colonials.”

One of Folkerts’ colleagues, Steven Livingston, interim director of the SMPA, expressed similar sentiments.

“We wish Professor Folkerts all the best in her new endeavor at the University of North Carolina,” he said. “She is a first-rate friend, professor and academic leader.”

Livingston also believes that Folkerts’ appointment reflects positively on GW.

“I think it shows how well- regarded GW is by other universities around the country,” he said.

University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg echoed that same point last month, when Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean William Frawley was selected as the new president of University of Mary Washington in Virginia.

At GW, Folkerts has served in a variety of positions, including chair of the journalism department, SMPA director, interim CCAS dean and vice president for special academic initiatives.

“GW has always been good to me,” she said. “The school has given me lots of exciting new challenges throughout my career.”

In addition to her many administrative roles, Folkerts has also received recognition for her work in the fields of mass media and media history. Originally from Kansas, she was named a Kansan of distinction by the Topeka Capital-Journal newspaper in 2001.

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