Sesno to leave SMPA for one semester to write book

Frank Sesno, the director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, will leave for a sabbatical next spring to write his first book, he said in an interview Tuesday.

Sesno, who has led the school since 2009, said he will return to the director’s role after his semester away, likely surrendering his position as the journalism and political communication school’s top administrator to associate professor Kimberly Gross for a semester.

Her appointment is pending a faculty vote.

Sesno will spend the time writing a book on interviewing, which will include reflections on his time as a CNN correspondent. Sesno also teaches a class called “The Art of Interviewing.”

“I still feel like I have to take some time if I’m ever going to work on this book, and because it’s something that is a very important part of being in academia. You think and learn and keep up with the world of ideas around you. And I just haven’t had that chance,” Sesno said.

Sesno said his book will be based on the idea that questions are an integral part of learning, but that not enough people ask enough questions in their lives. He said he has begun working with a publishing agent on what he called an “intimidating” project.

Gross, an expert in public opinion, returned from sabbatical in summer 2012.

Sesno said he and Gross would map out her duties if she were approved by faculty as the interim.

He said that the school will continue growing next year, adding three new hires in political communication, multimedia and investigative reporting. It will also add an executive education program this year.

Over the last four years, the former CNN bureau chief has helped raise the school’s profile through programs such as the Center for Innovative Media and environmentally focused Planet Forward, an online public forum and TV show.

He also led the creation of Face the Facts USA, a project that partnered the school with Google and Atlantic Media throughout the election season to dish out facts about the country’s core issues like national security and debt.

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