Rochelle L. Ford named dean of the School of Communications
Ford will join Elon after serving as a senior administrator and faculty member at Syracuse University and Howard University.
Following a national search, Elon University has named Rochelle L. Ford as the new dean of the School of Communications. She will succeed the school’s founding dean, Paul Parsons, on June 30, 2018.
Ford comes to Elon from Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y., where she has been a chair and tenured professor in the public relations department of the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications, as well as provost faculty fellow. She previously spent 16 years in the School of Communications at Howard University, Washington, D.C., where she was a faculty member in the Department of Journalism and the Department of Communication, Culture and Media Studies and associate dean of the School of Communications.
“Rochelle Ford is a nationally recognized leader and scholar who brings to Elon a student- and learning-centered approach to communications education,” said Connie Ledoux Book, Elon University president. “As a senior-level administrator, she has coordinated and grown programs at two prestigious communications schools while maintaining a primary focus on her role as a teacher-scholar-mentor.”
Ford said she was immediately attracted to Elon because of the School of Communications’ national reputation for active and engaged learning and the strong relationships students have with their faculty mentors. “Elon is a wonderful place to collaborate with faculty, staff, alumni and industry partners to help develop future generations of journalists, strategic communicators, filmmakers, television professionals, designers, researchers grounded in analytics, sports managers and other professionals whose communications skills will help them excel.”
Under Ford’s leadership, the Newhouse School public relations department achieved the PRWeek Program of the Year award for two consecutive years. She led the faculty in creating a department strategic plan, which included a student ePortfolio requirement, enhanced industry immersion opportunities and expanded study abroad opportunities. In 2016 she was named a provost faculty fellow guiding Syracuse University’s reaccreditation process.
Ford served as the senior academic officer in the second largest school/college at Howard University, where she championed diversity and conducted interdisciplinary research with grant funding totaling more than $2.14 million.
She coordinated the Washington Post-Howard University partnership resulting in journalism students publishing stories and photos in the Washington Post and on Washingtonpost.com. She also secured high profile undergraduate internship partnerships for public relations students at the World Bank, White House, House of Representatives, General Motors, General Electric, IBM and NASCAR. She helped develop Howard University’s first interdisciplinary “build your own major” concentration in the School of Communications, helped create new interdisciplinary courses in Digital Media Literacy and in Ethical and Legal Issues in Communication and collaborated across other university departments to integrate non-communications courses with the communications curriculum.
Elon Provost and Executive Vice President Steven House said Ford was selected from a pool of highly qualified candidates from across the country. “Dr. Ford is well-prepared to continue the development of Elon’s School of Communications as one of the nation’s premier programs,” House said. “Over the past 17 years, Dean Parsons has led the faculty in building the school’s reputation for producing outstanding graduates with career-ready skills. As our next dean, Rochelle Ford will be committed to Elon’s model of experiential learning and strong relationships between students and their faculty and staff mentors.”
Ford’s research includes three books, and numerous industry reports, edited books, refereed journal articles, book chapters and sponsored research (grants/contracts) focused on two major areas: student success/pedagogy and diversity and inclusion. Her research projects include practical applications so that industry leaders can use her findings to improve how they manage their teams and produce communications.
She is an active member of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) and helped create the organization’s accreditation standards, policies and strategic plans. She led the successful ACEJMC re-accreditation for Howard University’s School of Communications in 2009 and has served on accreditation site teams for ACEJMC at the University of North Carolina and five other universities.
An internationally sought-after speaker, Ford has presented to organizations such as Bermuda’s Department of Communications and Information, Omnicom, AdColor, Council of PR Firms, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Edelman, and the National Black Meeting Planners Association. She coordinated a series of diversity podcasts and wrote the monthly column “Diversity Dimensions” for Public Relations Tactics.
Ford completed a 2016 Fulbright Specialist Fellowship in The Gambia, West Africa, teaching high school journalism; training government, NGO and corporate executives on business and public relations writing; and starting single and parenting support groups. She is co-chair of the National Diversity & Inclusion Committee of the Arthur W. Page Society and received the 2007 National Capital Chapter of Public Relations Diversity Champion Award and the 2008 D. Parke Gibson Award from the Public Relations Society of America. She also received the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations Milestones in Mentoring Award, the National Black Public Relations Society Founders Award, the 2002 Award for Innovations in Teaching, Learning and Technology presented by the International Conference on Teaching and Innovations, and PRWeek’s “Top 30 Under 30” in Public Relations Award.
Ford began her career in 1995 as a communications instructor at the University of Tennessee at Martin. She has served as a consultant for numerous companies and organizations, including the American Advertising Foundation, McKinney & Associates, Urban Partnerships, National Council of Negro Women, and Montgomery County Public Schools (Maryland).
Ford has earned certificates in management and leadership in education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education; accreditation in public relations (APR) from the Universal Accreditation Board; a doctorate in journalism from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale; a master’s degree in journalism and a master’s certificate in gerontology from the University of Maryland, College Park; and a bachelor’s degree from Howard University.
A mother of three, she has led a single and parenting ministry, taught Sunday school, coached cheerleading and served as a missionary in Kenya.
Elon’s nationally accredited School of Communications is home to more than 1,250 students, representing about 20 percent of the university’s student body. The school encompasses a new four-building communications commons on Elon’s historic and beautiful campus. Sixty-six full-time faculty and 11 full-time staff support undergraduate majors in journalism, strategic communications, cinema & television arts, communication design, media analytics and sport management. The school also includes a full-time master’s program in interactive media, and partners with Elon’s Martha and Spencer Love School of Business to provide a concentration in corporate communications as part of the master of science in management program.
The school offers a wide range of opportunities for students to put their learning into practice. These include highly active student journalism organizations, under the umbrella of the Elon News Network, Elon Student Television (ESTV), WSOE-FM radio, the Live Oak Communications student-run communications agency, the Phi Psi Cli student yearbook, elondocs student documentary unit, Cinelon for cinematic production, FreshTV for first-year students, and Maroon Sports, a live event production partnership between the school and Elon’s NCAA Division I athletics program.
The school houses the internationally recognized Imagining the Internet Center, a research effort that documents the evolution of communications technologies; and the Sunshine Center of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition, which unites organizations around issues of open government, records and meetings. The school also created and staffs the Elon in LA (Los Angeles) program that involves students in communications internships and classroom instruction in the nation’s entertainment capital.