SMPA narrows director search to four

As college basketball fans root for their teams in the upcoming Final Four, the School of Media and Public Affairs has selected its own final four candidates for the next permanent director of the school.

SMPA officials announced the candidates – all of whom have high-profile experience in the national media – at Thursday night’s meeting of SMPA majors. Finalists, selected from an original pool of 20 to 30 applicants, are Bill Press, Frank Sesno, Charles Lane and Lee Huebner.

“All four candidates have superior qualifications for the position of director,” said William Frawley, outgoing dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

Frawley added that “as finalists, they have come through a rigorous process of interviews in which the committee looked very closely at what each candidate has accomplished and what each could do for the future of SMPA.”

All four finalists will be on campus in the next few weeks for individual interviews and to meet students, faculty and administrators, Frawley said. He added that he hopes to have a new director chosen by the end of April.

“We expect to make a decision shortly after the last candidate’s visit, with the new director starting in summer 2006,” Frawley said.

Press was head of the Democratic Party in California from 1993-1996 and is a former co-host of “Crossfire” on CNN Press has also authored four books, co-hosted MSNBC’s “Buchanan and Press” and “The Spin Room,” and is an award-winning radio talk show host and television commentator.

Sesno, who served as the D.C. bureau chief for CNN from 1996 to 2002, is currently a professor of public policy and communication at George Mason University. Prior to his work as CNN’s Washington bureau chief, Sesno served as a White House correspondent, anchor and analyst for the cable network. Sesno still anchors many CNN and public access television specials, Roberts said.

Editor of the New Republic from 1997 to 1999, Lane is a former editorial writer who now covers the Supreme Court for The Washington Post.

During his tenure at the New Republic, Lane helped uncover the deceptions of former New Republic Associate Editor Stephen Glass, who was fired for fabricating stories in the magazine and made famous in a movie.

Huebner served for 14 years as publisher and CEO of the world’s first global newspaper, the Paris-based International Herald Tribune. He was also a speechwriter for President Richard Nixon, Roberts said.

Huebner is a professor of journalism and communication at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

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 this semester as an SMPA professor.

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