Paul Parsons

Dean of the School of Communications
McEwen - Comm. 101D
2850 Campus Box
Elon, NC 27244 (336) 278-5724

Brief Biography

Paul Parsons is a professor and dean of the School of Communications at Elon University.

He graduated from Baylor University, worked for almost a decade as a reporter for United Press International and as an editor with The Associated Press, and earned a Ph.D. in Communications at the University of Tennessee. He spent 16 years at Kansas State, where he received the Outstanding Teaching Award in the College of Arts and Sciences, was promoted to full professor, and served eight years as associate director of the A.Q. Miller 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.

His primary teaching areas are media law and ethics, international communications, philanthropy, and reporting and writing courses.

He has authored two books published by university presses, four book chapters, 18 peer-reviewed journal articles, and numerous articles in popular publications such as Advertising Age and College Media Review. He also has given dozens of presentations at national conferences and abroad.

Parsons became founding dean of Elon's School of Communications in 2001. Today, about 20 percent of Elon’s student body is majoring in the school, which now has more than 70 faculty and staff members. Elon is one of only 18 private universities in the nation with an accredited communications program, and the 2011-12 accreditation team called the school's growth in quality and quantity "nothing short of spectacular." The school is home to the Imagining the Internet Center, the North Carolina Open Government Coalition, the Elon in Los Angeles program, and offers the M.A. in Interactive Media degree.

In 2011, Parsons received the national Administrator of the Year Award from the Scripps Howard Foundation and AEJMC. The year before, Elon's School of Communications received the discipline's national Equity & Diversity Award for its record in gender equity and racial diversity.

In 2010-11, Parsons served as president of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication. He currently represents ASJMC on the national Accrediting Council and regularly chairs accreditation site teams, including those at Michigan State, Missouri, Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the University of Puerto Rico, as well as accreditation previsits to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.


Ph.D. in Communications, University of Tennessee, 1987
In residence from 1983-85. Selected as the outstanding doctoral student in the College of Communications in 1985. Dissertation on the editorial processes in scholarly publishing, later published as a book.

M.A. in Journalism, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, 1983
Took graduate courses over a five-year span while working full time for UPI and The Associated Press. Thesis a content analysis of Little Rock’s daily newspaper coverage of the 1957 school integration crisis.

B.A. in Journalism, Baylor University, 1974
Elected three times as an editor of The Lariat daily student newspaper. President of the Southwestern Journalism Congress. Named an Outstanding Senior Man at Baylor.

Employment History

Elon University, 2001 to present
Became founding dean of the School of Communications in July 2001.

Kansas State University, 1985-2001
Came as the R.M. Seaton Professor, tenured and promoted to full professor, and served eight years as the associate director of the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Administrative duties included course scheduling, faculty development and student issues. Chaired the College of Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee and the university’s Title IX Committee and served on the Athletics Council, the University Press of Kansas editorial board, and the College of Arts and Sciences Tenure and Promotion Committee.

Twice granted year-long overseas sabbaticals:

China, 1992-93: Fulbright Professor, China School of Journalism, Beijing

Singapore, 1999-2000: Visiting Professor, School of Communication, Nanyang Technological University

University of Tennessee, 1983-85
Taught in the School of Journalism and Department of Broadcasting while completing a Ph.D. in the College of Communications.

The Associated Press, 1980-83
State broadcast editor for Arkansas, coordinating news coverage for television and radio. Nominated by bureau chief in 1982 as AP State Broadcast Editor of the Year.

United Press International, 1975-80
Reporter and state Capitol correspondent in Little Rock, coordinating UPI's legislative coverage and Bill Clinton’s early governorship for newspapers and broadcast stations.

Arkansas Democrat (now Democrat-Gazette), 1974-75
City Hall reporter, then assistant sports editor for this 140,000-circulation statewide daily.

Leadership Positions


Convenor of leadership and quality control sessions at the World Journalism Education Congresses in Grahamstown, South Africa, July 2010, and in Mechelen, Belgium, July 2013.

President, Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication, 2010-11 (served as ASJMC president-elect in 2009-10 and as vice president in 2008-09).

Member of the Hearst Journalism Awards Program steering committee, 2008 to present.

Member of the Accrediting Council representing AEJMC, 2004-07, and ASJMC, 2011 to present.

Author of Assessment: Our Approach to the New Accreditation Standard, distributed nationally at the request of the Accrediting Council.

Accreditation team chair at Michigan State University (2013), University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo (2013), St. Cloud State University (2012), University of Missouri (2011), University of Nebraska (2010), Texas Christian University (2010), Iowa State University (2009), University of Oklahoma (2009), University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire (2008 with a revisit in 2010) and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (2008). Team member at Abilene Christian University (2006), University of Oregon (2005) and Drake University (2004).

External reviewer for Qatar University (2011), King Saud University in Saudi Arabia (2009), Kuwait University (2008), Alfred University (2006), Goshen College (2006), DePauw University (2005), Catawba College (2005) and Baylor University (2000).

Consultant on program assessment at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (2011), Western Kentucky University (2009) and the University of South Carolina (2007).

Served on the nationally elected AEJMC Standing Committee on Teaching, 1998-2004 and again 2008-10.

Chair, ASJMC Diversity Committee, 2006-08. Author of Diversity Revisited: Good Ideas for Your Diversity Plan, distributed to all JMC programs in 2008.

Mentor, Journalism Leadership Institute for Diversity (JLID), 2004-05 and 2008-09.

Editorial board, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator (2003-12), Journalism & Communication Monographs (2008-12), and Mass Communication & Society (2001-03).


Convenor of the School of Communications Advisory Board, with NBC News anchor Brian Williams as national chair and "60 Minutes" senior producer Michael Radutzky as chair.

Co-chair of the School of Business Dean search committee, 2011.

Chair of Elon’s NCAA certification process, 2010.

Co-chair of the Provost search committee, 2008.

Chair of Elon's Career Center Director search committee, 2007.

Grants Awarded

Co-principal (with Professor Janna Anderson) of a $30,000 grant to Elon from the Pew Internet & American Life Project to study early predictions about the impact of the Internet, 2003-04.

Project designer in a $450,000 Kansas Health Foundation grant to Kansas State University to create an advertising campaign to apply the social norms theory to reduce binge drinking among college students, 1999-2001.

Recipient of an American Society of Newspaper Editors fellowship to be a general assignments reporter at the Winston-Salem Journal, summer 1995.

Recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship in Religious Studies for Journalists, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, spring 1983.



Getting Published: The Acquisition Process at University Presses (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1989). Received a full-page review in The New York Times Book Review and excerpted in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Inside America's Christian Schools (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1987). Journalistic field research involving schools in 30 states, emanating from a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship in Religious Studies for Journalists at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.


"Barriers to Media Development" (with Glenn W. Scott and Richard Landesberg), Global Journalism: Topical Issues and Media Systems, 5th ed., Arnold de Beer, ed. (Boston: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon, 2009), pp. 48-64.

"Indirect Measures: Institutional Data, Surveys, Interviews, and Advisory Boards," Assessing Media Education, William Christ, ed. (Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum, 2006), pp. 329-347.

"Barriers to Media Development," Global Journalism: Topical Issues and Media Systems, 4th ed., Arnold de Beer and John Merrill, eds. (Boston: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon, 2004), pp. 50-65.

"Sources of Information," The Responsible Reporter, 2nd ed., Bruce Evensen, ed. (Northport, Ala.: Vision Press, 1997), pp. 98-114.


"A Need for Reform to Align Practice with Values," Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Autumn 2003, pp. 214-218.

"News Framing of the Chinese Embassy Bombing by People's Daily and The New York Times" (with Xu Xiaoge), Asian Journal of Communication, Autumn 2001, pp. 51-67.

"Language Exams and Entrance Requirements: A 20-Year Update" (with Carol Oukrop as first author and Lee Brown), Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Summer 1998, pp. 40-44.

"Xinhua News Agency: Reporting the World, China-Style," Mass Comm Review, 24:3-4, 1997, pp. 71-84.

"The Image-Making News Flow Between China and the United States" (with Xu Xiaoge as first author), Mass Comm Review, 24:3-4, 1997, pp. 57-70.

"ProfNet: A Computer-Assisted Reporting Bridge to Academia" (with Raymond Johnson III), Newspaper Research Journal, Summer/Fall 1996, pp. 29-38.

"Fair Use or Copyright Infringement: Off-Air Video in the Classroom," Journal of Law and Education (University of South Carolina Law Center), Spring 1996, pp. 345-361.

"Fund-Raising Appeals to Alumni: Two Experiments" (with Dana Wethington), Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Spring 1996, pp. 44-50.

"The Copyright Implications of Using Video in the Classroom" (with Lance W. Speere as first author), Journalism Educator, Winter 1995, pp. 11-20.

"Roscoe Dunjee: Crusading Editor of Oklahoma's Black Dispatch, 1915-1955" (with William S. Sullins as first author), Journalism Quarterly, Spring 1992, pp. 204-213.

"The Evolving Publishing Agendas of University Presses," Scholarly Publishing (University of Toronto Press), October 1991, pp. 45-50.

"Benefits of Accreditation Scrutiny and Adequate University Support" (with Carol Oukrop as first author), Journalism Educator, Spring 1991, pp. 66-69.

"Specialization by University Presses," lead article in Book Research Quarterly, Summer 1990, pp. 3-15.

"The Editorial Committee: Controller of the Imprint," Scholarly Publishing (University of Toronto Press), July 1989, pp. 238-44.

"The Application of Libel Law to Fiction," Journalism Quarterly, Summer 1986, pp. 294-97, 336.

Editor, "Prominent Educators Assess Journalism Education's Future," Journalism Educator, Summer 1986, pp. 4-7, 55.

"Dangers of Libeling the Clergy," Journalism Quarterly, Autumn 1985, pp. 528-32, 539.

"The General Knowledge Void," Journalism Educator, Spring 1985, pp. 11, 14-15.


"Administrators from Around the World Identify Top Challenges," ASJMC Administrator, November 2010, pp. 3, 7.

"Examination of Diversity Plans Suggests Six Key Factors During Economic Hard Times," ASJMC Insights, Winter 2010, pp. 13-15.

"First Impressions: Making the Most of the First Day of Class," Teaching Tips column as an AEJMC Teaching Committee member, AEJMC News, March 2010, p. 13.

"New York Post," Encyclopedia of American Journalism, Stephen L. Vaughn, ed. (New York: Routledge, 2007), pp. 370-371.

"The Genesis and Outcome of an Assessment Plan," ASJMC Insights, Fall 2006, pp. 7-13.

"Freedom of Information Request," Magill's Legal Guide, Timothy Hall, ed. (Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2000), pp. 365-366.

Review of Handbook of the Media in Asia, edited by Shelton Gunaratne (Sage, 2000) and Asian Communication Handbook, edited by Anura Goonasekera and Duncan Holaday (AMIC/Singapore, 1998), in Asian Journal of Communication 10:2 (2000), pp. 132-133.

Review of Journalism: Theory and Practice, edited by Myles Breen (Australia: Macleay Press, 1998), in Media Asia, Winter 1999, pp. 228-229.

"Anatomy of a Libel Suit Against a Community Newspaper," Grassroots Editor, Fall 1999, pp. 3-5.

"Teaching Lifelong Values in the Classroom," Media Law Notes, January 1999, pp. 10-11.

"Keeping Community Roots Through Local Ownership," 1997 Community Newspaper Showcase of Excellence (National Newspaper Association), Summer 1998, pp. 39-40.

"Community Journalism Is the Heart and Soul," 1996 Community Newspaper Showcase of Excellence (National Newspaper Association), Summer 1997, pp. 14-17.

"Windows and Mirrors in the Community," essay in Mass Communication in the Information Age (Northport, Ala.: Vision Press, 1996), p. 148.

Review of Editors as Gatekeepers: Getting Published in the Social Sciences, edited by Rita Simon and James Fyfe (Rowman & Littlefield, 1994), in Sociological Inquiry, Spring 1996, pp. 224-225.

Review of ‘Speech Acts’ and the First Amendment by Franklyn S. Haiman (Southern Illinois University Press, 1993), in Journalism Quarterly, Winter 1994, pp. 1017-1018.

"Teaching Journalism in China: An American Perspective," China Exchange News (Committee on Scholarly Communication with China), Fall 1994, pp. 9-12.

"In China, Advertising Blooms Like a Thousand Flowers," Advertising Age, 19 July 1993, p. 18.

Libel Law in Kansas, a 30-page booklet for the Kansas Press Association published by the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media, 1992.

"Book Publishing at University Presses," Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, vol. 49, Allen Kent, ed. (New York: Marcel Dekker, 1992), pp. 37-57.

Contributor, The Decision-Making Process in Journalism by Carl Hausman (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1990). Personal interview on the nature of political distortion, pp. 77-80.

"News Source Response Provides Teaching Aid," College Media Review, Summer 1989, pp. 20-21.

"Coverage of Third World: Journalists Say It Is Influenced by U.S. Politics," Editor & Publisher, 4 June 1988, pp. 16-17.

"Student Press Censorship Reborn Within Hours of Hazelwood Ruling," Media Law Notes, Winter 1988, p. 12.

"The Fourth R," commissioned cover story for Christianity Today, 4 Sept. 1987, pp 21-27.

Contributor, College: The Undergraduate Experience in America, Ernest L. Boyer, ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1987). Served as one of 16 field researchers in 1985 for Boyer and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

"Regional University Presses Debate Ethics, Book Reviews, and Women's Studies,” Publishers Weekly, 8 Nov. 1985, pp. 23, 26.


"Accreditation and Assessment of Student Learning," Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, Chicago, August 2013.

"The Global State of Educational Quality Control," World Journalism Education Congress, Mechelen, Belgium, July 2013.

"Fulfilling the Rising Standards of Journalism and Mass Communication Accreditation," Scripps Howard Leadership Academy, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, June 2013.

"So You’re an Administrator, or Might Be One Someday: A Conversation with Colleagues Already in Leadership Roles," Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), St. Louis, August 2011.

"Curriculum in a Changing Age," Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication (ASJMC), Dallas, February 2011.

"Leading Issues Facing Journalism Programs Around the World," convenor of two sessions for administrators at the second World Journalism Education Congress, Grahamstown, South Africa, July 2010.

"Advisory Boards and Their Role in Development," ASJMC, Atlanta, February 2010.

"Fulbright Opportunities in Journalism and Communications," AEJMC, Boston, August 2009.

"The Ways and Means of Building Faculty Diversity," ASJMC, New Orleans, February 2008.

"Using Program Assessment to Promote Student Learning," World Journalism Education Congress, Singapore, June 2007.

"Using Campus Connections to Make a Program More International," ASJMC, St. Louis, February 2007.

"The Value of Assessment," AEJMC, San Francisco, August 2006.

"Adding International Dimensions to Programs," ASJMC, Chicago, February 2005.

"Institutional Data, Surveys, Interviews and Advisory Boards as Indirect Measures of Assessment," AEJMC, Toronto, August 2004.

"Concepts and Techniques to Enhance the Teaching Role," AEJMC, Toronto, August 2004.

"Ethics and News Leadership in the Media," Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, November 2003.

"The Image-Making News Flow Between China and the United States," keynote address at the International Symposium on Communication, Shanghai, China, October 1999.

"Moral Convergence: The Intersection of Law and Ethics," AEJMC, Baltimore, August 1998.

"The Teaching of Values in the Classroom," Promising Professors Workshop, AEJMC. Baltimore, August 1998.

"Student Publications Law," Journalism Education Association, Seattle, April 1998.

"Becoming a JMC Major: A 20-Year Update on the Use of Language Skills Exams and Other Entrance Requirements" (with Carol Oukrop and Lee Brown), AEJMC, Chicago, August 1997.

"Cyberspace Law," Journalism Education Association, Phoenix, April 1997.

"Where Technology and Values Collide: A Look at the Curriculum” (with Carol Pardun), AEJMC Mass Communication and Society. Boulder, Colorado, March 1997.

"ProfNet as a Bridge Between Media and the Academic Community," AEJMC Mass Communication and Society. Grand Forks, North Dakota, March 1996.

"Academic Honesty in Higher Education," AEJMC Mass Communication and Society, Grand Forks, North Dakota, March 1996.

"News Media Philosophy in the United States," China School of Journalism and published in translation in Proceedings of the China Journalists Association, Beijing, March 1993.

"Bill Clinton: What Kind of President He Will Be," inauguration-day speech given at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to about 100 Chinese leaders and academics based on my journalistic coverage of Clinton as Arkansas governor, January 1993.

"Free Expression: Can Freedom and Limitations Co-Exist?" First Amendment session, AEJMC, Boston, August 1991.

"The Crusading Editor of Oklahoma's Black Dispatch," AEJMC, Minneapolis, August 1990.

"Computer Communications: Technology and Legal Implications" (with Elizabeth Edwards), Western Social Sciences Association, Portland, Oregon, April 1990.

"Scholarly Book Publishing at University Presses," Popular Culture Association, Toronto, March 1990.

"Social Science Publishing by University Presses," Western Social Sciences Association, Albuquerque, April 1989.

"Feedback from News Sources as a Learning Tool," College Media Advisers, Atlanta, October 1988.

"University Presses as Gatekeepers of Ideas Within Society," AEJMC, Portland, Oregon, July 1988.

"Little Rock's Newspaper Coverage of the 1957 School Integration Crisis," Southeast Regional Colloquium, AEJMC, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, March 1988.

"Pulpit Power: The History of Libel Law and the Clergy," University of Tennessee Communication Research Symposium, Knoxville, March 1985.