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Paul Parsons to conclude his service as School of Communications dean

The founding dean, who completed a major expansion project last year and hosted a successful reaccreditation review this fall, will conclude 17 years in the role.

Paul Parsons, who came to Elon in 2001 as a professor and founding dean of the School of Communications, will conclude his service as dean at the end of the 2017-18 academic year.

Paul Parsons, dean of the Elon University School of Communications

“Serving as dean with talented faculty, staff and students has been the honor of a career,” Parsons said. “I love coming to work every day and playing a role in Elon’s extraordinary trajectory. But I also believe fresh leadership is healthy for a school to keep the momentum going.”

Parsons cited his good fortune in serving with exemplary leaders at Elon, specifically naming President Leo M. Lambert, former Provost Gerry Francis and current Provost Steven House. He added, “I’m also excited for Elon’s future with Connie Book – my former associate dean – as the next president.”

“Elon deeply appreciates the creative, comprehensive and extraordinary leadership Dean Parsons has provided to the university,” House said. “He has guided and supported students and faculty of the School of Communications and been a source of wise and encouraging leadership for our entire academic community. Dean Parsons has played a key role in establishing Elon as a premier student- and learning-centered university.”

Following a sabbatical, Parsons will teach full time in the school, fulfilling a pledge he made to himself to someday return to a professorial role.

Since its founding, the School of Communications has grown to more than 1,250 undergraduate and graduate students and 75 full-time faculty and staff, with majors in journalism, strategic communications, cinema & television arts, communication design, media analytics and sport management.

Paul Parsons speaks at the dedication ceremonies for new School of Communications facilities on March 31, 2017.

Elon is one of 18 private universities with an accredited communications school, along with Syracuse, Columbia, New York University, American, Baylor and the University of Southern California. A team representing the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, on Elon’s campus for four days on October, found the school in compliance on all standards and recommended reaccreditation for the next six years. The team wrote: “The dean is admired within the School and across campus for his vision and strategic ambition, openness to ideas, encouragement of experiment and creativity, patience and persistence, fairness and grace.”

The school’s accomplishments during Parsons’ tenure include the following:

  • Receiving the discipline’s national Equity & Diversity Award for the school’s success in building faculty diversity and gender equity
  • Establishing the Imagining the Internet Center and becoming home to the North Carolina Open Government Coalition
  • Publishing the nation’s only journal of undergraduate research in communications since 2010
  • Creating student opportunities such as Live Oak Communications student agency, elondocs documentary program, Cinelon Productions and Maroon Sports
  • Celebrating student successes such as two collegiate Emmys, gold and silver ADDY awards, championships in filmmaking and sports analytics, and national top-10 recognition in writing, multimedia and broadcast in the Hearst Journalism Awards
  • Establishing and staffing the Elon in Los Angeles program
  • Inaugurating the master of arts in interactive media degree and partnering with Elon’s Martha and Spencer Love School of Business to offer a corporate communications concentration in the master of science in management degree
  • Completing a major building project that more than doubled School of Communications space

Parsons graduated from Baylor University, worked for a decade as a journalist including as a United Press International reporter and Associated Press editor, earned a doctorate at the University of Tennessee, and spent 16 years on the faculty at Kansas State University, where he received the Outstanding Teaching Award in the College of Arts and Sciences, was promoted to full professor upon publication of his second book, and served eight years as associate director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He was a Fulbright Professor at the China School of Journalism in Beijing in 1992-93 and a visiting professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore in 1999-2000.

In 2010-11, Parsons served as president of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication and was named in 2011 as national Administrator of the Year by the Scripps Howard Foundation.

He currently is vice president of the national Accrediting Council and regularly chairs accreditation site teams, including those at New York University, Michigan State, Missouri, Kansas, Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the University of Puerto Rico, as well as in the United Arab Emirates.

Provost Steven House will work with President Lambert, President-elect Book and Academic Council on the process to search for the next dean of the School of Communications. A national search will launch immediately with an anticipated start date for the new dean of June 1, 2018.

Dan Anderson,
10/29/2017 5:35 PM