New dean announced for campus Graduate School of Journalism

Knight Foundation /Courtesy

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The UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism announced Tuesday that it has chosen Edward Wasserman as its new dean, concluding a six-month search that began in December 2011.

Wasserman, who is currently the John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Journalism Ethics at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, will serve as the school’s sixth dean when he begins his five-year term on January 1, 2013.

Wasserman was chosen by Chancellor Robert Birgeneau from among a group of finalists selected by a nine-person search committee — which included faculty from the school, student alumni and faculty from the broader campus — chaired by Henry Brady, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy.

Tom Goldstein, who has served as interim dean of the school since former dean Neil Henry resigned last August, will continue to hold the position until Wasserman starts his term.

Director of School Affairs Robert Gunnison said the school was fortunate to have had a number of strong candidates.

“(Wasserman) has an extensive background in both journalism and management of journalism,” Gunnison said.

Wasserman’s career in journalism began in 1972. He was the CEO and editor-in-chief of American Lawyer Media’s Daily Business Review, the executive business editor of The Miami Herald and the city editor of the Casper Star-Tribune in Wyoming, according to the announcement of Wasserman’s appointment by Janet Broughton, the campus vice provost for the faculty.

Referring to his previous experience, Wasserman said he had a sense of what it takes to manage and lead an institution such as the journalism school.

“I regard the deanship as enabling me to bring to bear a number of different facets of my career,” he said.

Despite his recent foray into academia, which began at Washington and Lee University in 2003, Wasserman continues to practice journalism and writes a biweekly column on the media for The Miami Herald.

Wasserman said he is looking forward to his deanship at the journalism school.

“Berkeley is such an interesting and exciting challenge,” he said. “It’s an outstanding program with a tremendous record of success.”

As a professor at Washington and Lee University, Wasserman has written and taught on the professional rights and wrongs of the media, including plagiarism, source confidentiality and conflict of interest.

“Ed will be a worthy successor to a long line of Berkeley deans who have specialized in the study of press ethics,” Broughton said in her announcement.

Speaking of the changes undergone by the media industry in recent decades, Wasserman noted the increasing indispensability of academic training.

“The amount of training is substantially greater,” he said. “The challenge for us is to continue to produce graduates who have all the technical proficiency they need to keep publishing across a wide variety of platforms.”

Wasserman could not comment on any specific changes he has in mind for the school but indicated his plans would develop over time.

“It’s going to take some months of talking and listening carefully to get a very confident sense of a direction that I might even be willing to propose,” Wasserman said.