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Hussman School Dean Susan King says this is her last year in the position

Dean Susan King

Susan King, the dean of the UNC School of Media and Journalism, is photographed outside of Carroll Hall on August 16, 2017, in Chapel Hill. King is also a John Thomas Kerr Distinguished Professor. Photo courtesy of Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill.

Susan King, dean of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, will step down this year, according to an email she sent to faculty Tuesday.

King has been the dean of the journalism school since Jan. 1, 2012. She said she plans to return as a tenured faculty member after a leave.

"It is not the same world or business even as it was in 2012 when I arrived," King wrote in her email. "I believe after 10 years a new dean will bring fresh eyes, additional perspective and new energy to our school."

A search for the next dean will be launched this week, according to the email, and King will remain in her position until a successor is officially named.

The chairperson of the search committee for a new Hussman dean will be School of Information and Library Science Dean Gary Marchionini, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Bob Blouin said in a campus email Tuesday.

King hopes the transition will be as smooth as possible, but that may be challenged by the pandemic and accreditation for the journalism school.

The search for a journalism school dean is one of many searches currently underway at UNC, including for a new University provost and a School of Nursing dean.

King’s leadership at UNC

King spearheaded many initiatives to further journalism education during her time at the journalism school.

Both the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media and the Center for Information, Technology and Public Life were established during her tenure. She also brought the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting from Harvard University to UNC in 2019.

The Ida B. Wells Society, which aims to increase and retrain reporters and editors of color in investigative reporting, was co-founded in part by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.

In April, Hannah-Jones was set to join Hussman faculty as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism — until the Board of Trustees initially chose not to vote on her tenure application due to political pressure from conservatives who disapproved of her work on The 1619 Project.

King’s departure announcement comes on the heels of a summer marked by Hannah-Jones’ fight for tenure at UNC, which she was eventually granted but declined, with Jones taking a tenured position at Howard University instead. King was vocal about her support of Hannah-Jones receiving tenure, despite the opposing view of the journalism school’s namesake, Arkansas newspaper magnate Walter Hussman.

In her email to staff, King noted the difficulty of the past year — for many reasons — and commended Hussman School faculty and staff for their work despite it.

“Our school culture kept us focused on engaging our students in the big and important issues of the day, our commitment to diversity in terms of thought, race, gender, identity, philosophy and other differences was deepened, and our belief that communication and free expression are at the heart of a multi-cultural democracy has been tested and is stronger,” she wrote. “I am proud to say I am dean at this moment.”


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