UF journalism school dean to step down


Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 5:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 5:56 p.m.

The dean of the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications, who has been on medical leave as he received radiation and chemotherapy for throat cancer, announced Wednesday that he would return to faculty duties when his contract as dean runs out in January 2013.

College Dean John Wright wrote in a letter to colleagues that UF will soon form a search committee and have an entire year to find a new dean. Wright wrote that he decided in the fall to step down as dean and planned on announcing it at the end of the semester, but the process was derailed because of his cancer treatment and sudden hospitalization.

Linda Childers Hon, the college's executive associate dean and a public relations professor, has been serving as acting dean since Dec. 5. Wright plans to return to the job next week, according to UF spokesman Steve Orlando.

Wright joined the UF faculty in 1982. After college Dean Terry Hynes resigned in July 2006, Wright was named the college's interim dean. He was made dean in December 2007.

His tenure has been a time of major change. The college expanded efforts in digital media, including the creation of a Center for Media Innovation and Research, and recently announced the creation of a professional master's degree in mass communication with an emphasis in multimedia journalism.

He created a Division of Multimedia Properties that oversaw sometimes controversial format changes at the college-owned broadcast stations, including the dropping of classical music for a news and talk format at 89.1 FM. The college also has gone through budget cuts that resulted in layoffs and the elimination of its Documentary Institute.

Wright “definitely had to make some tough decisions but I think he always made those decisions with the best interests of the students, the college and the university in mind,” said Spiro Kiousis, chairman of the college's public relations department.

Wright was unavailable for comment on his announcement, according to college spokeswoman Quenta Vettel. In his letter to colleagues, Wright wrote that he was looking forward to the college's upcoming re-accreditation visit and other aspects of the coming year.

“There are so many wonderful aspects about being dean of this great College, but I am excited about pursuing other professional goals as well,” he wrote.

Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or nathan.crabbe@gvillesun.com. For more stories on the University of Florida, visit www.thecampussun.com.

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