Professor Frank Sesno approved to lead School of Media and Public Affairs

Professor Frank Sesno will be the new director of the School of Media and Public Affairs after being selected by the SMPA faculty and approved by the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean Peg Barratt, University officials said Friday.

Board of Trustees Chairman Russell Ramsey announced at Friday’s board meeting that Sesno would take over as the school’s leader. Sesno, an Emmy Award-winning journalist and a former special correspondent for CNN, has been a professor in the SMPA for three years.

As director, Sesno said he plans to embrace the period of change in the field of media and public affairs.

“The future is very challenging but also very bright,” Sesno said in an interview earlier this month after being nominated by SMPA faculty. “It’s a time of great change, great opportunity and we here in the middle of Washington, D.C., in this University can make a very substantial difference in the lives of our students in the material we research and in the industry we follow.”

He added that when he assumes the director position, he will seek student input to determine what issues he should tackle first.

“I’m going to spend a lot of time speaking to and listening to faculty and students, others, alumni, our national council,” Sesno said.

Sesno will replace outgoing director Lee Huebner, who announced earlier in April that he would step down from his post when his three-year term expires in July.

Professor Steven Livingston, chair of the SMPA Director Nominating Committee, said Sesno was chosen for his grasp of the changing media landscape in the 21st century.

Once Sesno was selected by the committee, he was voted in unanimously by the SMPA faculty.

Barratt confirmed Friday evening that she approved Sesno to take over the director position, but declined to comment on why she approved Sesno, or when he will officially take over.

“I very much look forward to my position as director of the School of Media and Public Affairs,” Sesno said at Friday’s board meeting.

Earlier this year, Sesno hosted an event with five former secretaries of state and launched Planet Forward, a Web- and television-based hybrid program dedicated to bringing environmental issues to the forefront.

“The vision, energy and insight he brings to Planet Forward signals for all of us the direction he will take SMPA,” Livingston said.

Before arriving at GW, Sesno was a professor of public policy and communications at George Mason University. He has also served as the Washington bureau chief for CNN.

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