Penn State's College of Communications names assistant dean

November 25, 2009

Thor Wasbotten has been named assistant dean for student media and online operations in the College of Communications, effective Jan. 1.

Wasbotten joined the Penn State faculty in 2004, bringing more than a decade of award-winning professional experience to his role as senior lecturer and general manager of television operations.

With his organizational and teaching skills, he guided the launch of “Centre County Report,” a weekly television news program produced by students as part of an upper-division class. The show, which airs on WPSU-TV throughout Pennsylvania and parts of New York, was named one of the nation’s top three student newscasts earlier this year by the Society of Professional Journalists in its annual Mark of Excellence competition.

As assistant dean, Wasbotten will continue his work in the classroom and lead the coordinated effort of student media produced by students in the College of Communications. That includes work with ComMedia (at online), the online showcase site for student work, and ComRadio (at online), the Web-based station that broadcasts 24/7 with hundreds of hours of student programming each year.

“I appreciate the opportunity to lead this new challenge,” Wasbotten said. “The media industry has changed dramatically and our goal as a College is to prepare our students to best meet the multimedia demands of their future careers within a rigorous academic environment.”

The College of Communications has added several classrooms, built studios and created more numerous opportunities for students in recent years. With plans to add even more as part of a focus on multimedia journalism, Wasbotten will assume an overarching role in guiding and organizing those efforts.

“I look forward to the leadership Thor will provide,” said Dean Doug Anderson. “As the College’s presence at Innovation Park has grown and as we have methodically added to our constellation of student media platforms, it is clear that we have reached the point where we need focused leadership for our internal student media advances and our relationships with the professions and industries.”

Before coming to Penn State, Wasbotten served as news director of the ABC affiliate in Tucson, Ariz., where the newscast earned six Associated Press awards -- including Best Newscast -- in 2004 and four regional Edward R. Murrow awards in 2003. He also held positions as station manager and news director for the Fox affiliate in Boise, Idaho; managing editor for the NBC affiliate in Boise; and weekend assignments editor for the CBS affiliate in Portland, Ore.

His background includes two start-up TV operations -- one at Fox 12 in Boise and the other at the University of Oregon, where he served as a graduate teaching fellow from September 1992 to March 1994.

Wasbotten earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California, his master’s degree at the University of Oregon and has continued his executive education in business management at Boise State University and Columbia University.

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Last Updated January 09, 2015