Dean of UNC's journalism school says she'll step down

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Dean of UNC's journalism school says she'll step down after this year.

In an email to her colleagues Tuesday, Susan King said this will be her last year spearheading the Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

"Susan began her service as dean in January 2012 and has advanced the school in numerous ways during her decade as its leader. Her emphasis on creating experiential learning opportunities for students, increasing faculty support and upgrading facilities to reflect media innovation are among the reasons media and journalism is now the University's second-largest major," UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert A. Blouin said in a joint statement.

King wrote that she never planned on staying as dean longer than a decade.

"Media - journalism, public relations and advertising - are in a state of great change. It is not the same world or business even as it was in 2012 when I arrived," King said. "I believe after 10 years a new dean will bring fresh eyes, additional perspective and new energy to our school."

A search will begin this week. UNC School of Information and Library Science Dean Gary Marchionini will lead a committee tasked with finding King's successor.

"I'll take a leave - as is customary when a new dean steps in - so that he or she has the ability to shape the office unhindered," King said. "I plan to return as a tenured faculty member after a leave and to work with our spectacular students to "prepare them to ignite the public conversation."

In 2020, Susan was named the 2019 Scripps Howard Administrator of the Year by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication - the highest recognition for a dean in her field.

King noted that it has been a challenging year for the university. Several hundred UNC faculty members have signed their names to a petition with the hopes of moving classes online for at least four weeks.

UNC-Chapel Hill also struggled with a tenure flap involving journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who in 2020 accepted a position to join the UNC faculty as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism -- a position without tenure that had the option for tenure review.

Hannah-Jones then backed out of her agreement and her quest for tenure become a national controversy.

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Susan King, the dean of Hussman School of Journalism and Media, reacts to Nikole Hannah-Jones turning down UNC tenure

She ultimately joined the journalism program at Howard University.

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