Communications Dean Paul Parsons receives national administrator award

Paul Parsons, dean of the School of Communications, formally received the national Administrator of the Year award at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference on Aug. 10 in St. Louis.

In March, the Scripps Howard Foundation had announced his selection and that of Professor Joe Saltzman of the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California as the national Teacher of the Year.

At the keynote session in St. Louis, Scripps Howard played videos highlighting their careers and then presented each with the Charles E. Scripps Award and a $10,000 prize, which Parsons has donated to Elon for need-based student scholarships.

The nominating letter by the School of Communications faculty said, “In a time of significant professional and disciplinary change, Dr. Parsons has articulated a clear vision, implemented a progressive agenda, and demonstrated a collaborative leadership style.”

In his St. Louis remarks, Parsons thanked his faculty and remarked, “These are tough times to be a leader, and administrators have to balance a lot of interests. So when you return to campus this fall, say something nice to your administrators. They might even deserve it!”

Parsons came to Elon as founding dean of the School of Communications in 2001 following 10 years with United Press International and The Associated Press, 14 years at Kansas State University as a professor and associate director, and a year each as a Fulbright Professor in China and visiting professor in Singapore.

The School of Communications today is home to 1,100 students majoring in Journalism, Strategic Communications, Media Arts & Entertainment, Communication Science and Sport & Event Management. The school offers an M.A. in Interactive Media degree.

The nomination letter noted that, since Parsons came to Elon, the school has created the Imagining the Internet Center in partnership with the Pew Internet & American Life Project, established the Sunshine Center for the North Carolina Open Government Coalition, and begun the nation’s only undergraduate research journal in communications. In addition, the school coordinates the Elon in Los Angeles and New York City summer programs.

Student media are flourishing. Earlier this year, Phoenix14News was named the nation’s best student newscast by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The Pendulum student newspaper received a national Pacemaker Award for the first time in 2009, and its online edition was named Best of Show in 2010. The school also operates Live Oak Communications as a student-run agency and produces an Elon sports show that airs on ESPN2 in the state.

Last fall, the school received AEJMC’s national Equity & Diversity Award for a robust commitment to faculty diversity, and the school has attracted a Communications Advisory Board of leading professionals, including “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams as chair.

On the national level, Parsons is the 2010-11 president of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication (ASJMC), the leadership group in the discipline.