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K-State Today

January 29, 2014

Distinguished alumna joins A.Q. Miller School as visiting professor and scholar

Submitted by Birgit Wassmuth

Jean Folkerts is joining the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications in the College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University as a visiting professor and scholar. Folkerts is a K-State alumna and former dean and alumni distinguished professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Folkerts is a media historian who will teach a spring course in journalism history that is cross-listed between the A.Q. Miller School and the history department. She also will be a resource and mentor for journalism and mass communication faculty members as they develop their research programs to achieve tenure and promotion.

"I'm looking forward to working with the faculty and students in the A.Q. Miller School," Folkerts said. "It's a pleasure to be associated with one of the oldest journalism programs in the country and one that is growing and embracing the new challenges of journalism."

Folkerts holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science from K-State in journalism and mass communication and a doctorate from the University of Kansas in American studies.

"We are delighted to have Jean Folkerts back in Kedzie Hall," said Birgit Wassmuth, director of the A.Q. Miller School. "Over the years, she has been such an inspiration for so many of us as we collectively engage in redesigning and improving journalism and mass communication education."

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. Her most recent publication, with Nicholas Lemann and John Maxwell Hamilton, is "Educating Journalists: A New Plea for the University Tradition." The publication, written by three former journalism deans, is the outgrowth of the Carnegie Knight Initiative for the Future of Journalism Education.

"I first met Jean when I was leading the Carnegie Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education, and her knowledge of journalism education, its history and her dedication to the field impressed me greatly," said Susan King, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. "She was a very effective leader at UNC and created an engine of change for the school and for the industry with the shaping of the Reese News Lab. I wish she had remained our colleague in Chapel Hill, but realize her retirement allows her to return both to the state she loves and to her alma mater."

In 2002 Folkerts was designated a Kansan of Distinction by the Topeka Capital-Journal. 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. She also 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.