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K-State Today

January 10, 2017



A.Q. Miller School names interim director

By Louise Benjamin

Jean Folkerts has been appointed interim director of the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications, where she has been visiting professor and scholar since January 2014. Folkerts is an alumni distinguished professor emeritus of the School of Media and Journalism, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she served as dean of the school for five years. She is a K-State alumna with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism. She received her doctorate in American studies from the University of Kansas.

Folkerts said her goals for the school in her interim role would be to foster a positive atmosphere for all who work within the school — faculty and staff — and to establish a positive approach to recruiting new faculty and a new permanent director. "I also plan to work with the advisory board, the dean and his development staff to lay the groundwork for successful fundraising for the school, and to meet with others across campus who might collaborate with us on future research, teaching and service responsibilities.

"The school is well positioned to advance research and teaching in the role of communication in rural communities and in health and crisis communication," she said.

Folkerts has extensive administrative experience. Before going to UNC-Chapel Hill, she was director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, where she also served as acting dean of Columbian College and as associate vice president for special academic initiatives.

Interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Amit Chakrabarti noted this experience and said, "Dr. Folkerts is passionate about the A.Q. Miller School and will move the school forward with her extensive experience at various levels of administration and superb leadership skill. She will also help us hire the next permanent director, who will be in place by July 2018."

Folkerts is a leading media history scholar and received the 2016 Sidney Kobre Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism History from the American Journalism Historians Association at its annual conference in October 2016. This award is given to individuals with an exemplary record of sustained achievement in journalism history, through research, teaching and professional activities.

Folkerts served as editor of Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly for nine years. She is co-author, with Dwight Teeter and Edward Caudill, of one of the leading mass media history textbooks, "Voices of A Nation." She also is co-author, with Michigan State University's Stephen Lacy, of "Media in American Life," and has written a number of journal and magazine articles. One of her most recent publications, with Nicholas Lemann and John Maxwell Hamilton, is "Educating Journalists: A New Plea for the University Tradition." This report, written by three former journalism deans, is the outgrowth of the Carnegie Knight Initiative for the Future of Journalism Education.

In 2002 the Topeka Capital Journal designated her as a Kansan of Distinction. In 2001 the Freedom Forum named her Journalism Teacher of the Year, and in 2007 she won the Elizabeth Somers Award for Faculty Excellence at Mount Vernon College, where she chaired the communications department for six years.