Dean Doug Anderson announces retirement

September 06, 2013

Doug Anderson, who has served as dean of the College of Communications at Penn State since 1999, has announced his retirement, effective June 30, 2014.

Anderson will complete the 2013-14 academic year and a national search will be conducted to find a successor to be in place on July 1, 2014.

During Anderson’s tenure, the college became the country’s largest nationally accredited mass communications program and enjoyed a period of unprecedented growth and success.

“After 37 years in the academy and 27 in university administration, it’s time to retire,” Anderson said. The pragmatic administrator and professor does not plan to go quietly or relax during his final year, though. “The college has plenty on its plate during the next year and I will continue to be among the first in Carnegie Building each morning and one of the last to leave each evening,” he said.

Anderson’s collaborative approach, leadership and vision have been the guiding forces for the Penn State communications program the past decade and a half. During his tenure, measurable success and tangible results can be found in every facet of the program.

Increases the past 15 years include: the number of undergraduate students, from 2,825 to nearly 3,300; annual for-credit internships facilitated, 275 to 650; annual undergraduate degrees conferred, 600 to 945; annual scholarships awarded, $192,000 to $710,000; and the permanent endowment value, from $8.9 million to $29 million.

Still, Anderson, 65, who also team teaches a depth reporting class each fall, has kept an emphasis on undergraduate education at the core of his approach. He takes pride in the graduation rate in the college (80 percent for four years), which stands as the highest of any academic college at Penn State.

In addition, his collaborative manner and unselfishness have made Penn State a popular place for faculty, staff and students. The collegiality of the program has played an important part in the growth and success of the college.

“I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to work with so many talented faculty members, staff members and students during my tenure here,” Anderson said. “Their combined efforts have made us what we have become.

“And it has truly been a privilege to get to know so many extraordinary graduates of our program and so many exceptionally supportive and loyal constituents and friends.”

Coming off of back-to-back national championships in the William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s Journalism Awards Program, which is often called “the Pulitzers of college journalism,” consistently strong performances in competitions sponsored by the American Advertising Federation, regular praise for work produced by students and faculty in the film-video program and numerous accolades across all four departments, the college’s reputation has been well-earned.

“Doug Anderson has been a stellar dean. During the past 15 years he has led the development of the College of Communications into one of the most highly regarded and successful academic units of its kind in the nation,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said. “He has done so with strategic vision, a great blend of academic and professional talent and a spirit of collaboration he has helped to instill in the college. He will leave very big shoes to fill.”

During Anderson’s tenure, the full-time faculty grew significantly, with the number of tenured communications faculty members doubling; departments of Advertising/Public Relations, Film-Video and Media Studies, Journalism, and Telecommunications were created; the Office of Internships and Career Placement was established; state-of-the-art broadcast studios and newsrooms were built at Innovation Park as the college’s space increased by more than 40 percent; and student showcases ComMedia, ComRadio and “Centre County Report,” the weekly 30-minute newscast that was named the best student newscast in America by the Broadcast Education Association for 2012, were launched, significantly expanding hands-on opportunities for students.

In addition, the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, the Jim Jimirro Center for the Study of Media Influence, the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication and the Don Davis Program for Ethical Leadership were created.

The college’s graduate students and faculty members became fixtures at major academic conferences; and the faculty expanded its wingspan with ever-increasing and nationally ranked scholarly and creative productivity.

The college also has become more diverse, with the number of minorities in the student body nearly doubling from 380 to 752. In 2013, the college received the Equity and Diversity Award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). The award, which is given to only one mass communication program in the country each year, honors schools that have attained measurable success with approaches to increasing racial, gender and ethnic equity and diversity.

Along with the successes, the down-to-earth and personable Anderson provides an unflappable model for his colleagues across campus and in the college. He consistently has served on University-level committees and for more than a decade has concluded his annual start-of-the-academic year retreat with his executive team with a reminder to “be unselfish.”

Anderson led the college through three successful national accreditation reviews. The most recent accreditation site-visit team, in fall 2012, concluded: “Although the college is the largest nationally accredited communication program in the country, the level of personal attention and support provided to students rivals that of much smaller institutions. ... With a highly talented and dedicated staff ... focused on advising, internships and career placement, and multicultural affairs, this self-proclaimed ‘student-centered’ college lives up to this promise.”

Anderson is the author or co-author of six books, two of which have gone into subsequent editions: “Contemporary Sports Reporting” and “News Writing and Reporting for Today’s Media,” which is now in its seventh edition and, through the years, has been adopted by more than 200 colleges and universities. He also has written more than 75 academic articles, papers, book chapters and workbooks.

Anderson was recognized with the AEJMC Presidential Award for “outstanding service to journalism and mass communication education” during the annual AEJMC Conference in Washington, D.C., last month.

Before coming to Penn State, he was the Cronkite Endowment Board of Trustees Professor and director of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State.

In 1996, The Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit for all people, named Anderson Journalism Administrator of the Year. He remains the youngest person ever to receive the award. In 1997, he served as the inaugural fellow at the Freedom Forum Pacific Coast Center in San Francisco, where he conducted a study on the state of journalism-mass communications education.

A former daily newspaper reporter, sports editor and managing editor, Anderson is a past president of the Nebraska Associated Press Managing Editors Association. He also is a past president of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Southwest Education Council on Education in Journalism in Mass Communication. He is the former three-term chair of the national Accrediting Committee of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. He currently serves as vice president of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. He also serves as chair of the steering committee of the Journalism Awards Program of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

Anderson’s wife, Claudia, an instructor in the College of Education at Penn State, retired earlier this summer.

  • Doug Anderson

    Doug Anderson has served as dean of the College of Communications since 1999, leading the program during a period of unprecedented growth and success.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated January 10, 2015