Elon’s dean of the School of Communications will lead the private college in Louisiana.
Rochelle Ford, dean of Elon University’s School of Communications since 2018, has been named the eighth president of Dillard University in New Orleans. Dillard is a four-year private liberal arts institution affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church. It was Louisiana’s first historically black university, founded in 1930 in the union of Straight College and New Orleans University (both founded in 1868).
Ford will begin service as Dillard’s president on July 1, 2022. She will succeed Walter M. Kimbrough, who has been Dillard’s president since 2012.
Ford has served as dean of the School of Communications and professor of strategic communications since July 2018, when she joined Elon from Syracuse University. At Syracuse she was a chair and professor in the public relations department of the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications, as well as a 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 also served as associate dean.
In 2021 Ford received the Distinguished Service Award from the Arthur W. Page Society. She received the Public Relations Society of America’s Outstanding Educator Award in 2019 and was inducted into the PRWeek Hall of Fame in 2018. She is known as one of the foremost experts in diversity and inclusion in the public relations, advertising and communications industries, and has led hundreds of presentations on multicultural communications and diversity.
At Elon’s School of Communications, Ford has worked with faculty to implement a new departmental structure, creating six undergraduate programs in cinema and television arts, communication design, journalism, media analytics, sport management and strategic communication. The school was named the Outstanding Education Program in 2019 by PRWeek, was recognized as #6 in the nation in the 2022 rankings of the Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts, and received a grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation to launch the Emerging Journalists Program, providing hands-on experience for high school students who aspire to careers in journalism.
Elon’s School of Communications was established in 2000 and serves more than 1,400 students in six undergraduate majors and a master’s program in interactive media. It is one of only 18 private colleges and universities in the nation accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).