Geeta Anand appointed interim dean of UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

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UC Berkeley professor Geeta Anand has been appointed interim dean of the campus Graduate School of Journalism — the first woman and woman of color to fulfill the position.

Edward Wasserman, the former dean, recently stepped down to rejoin the faculty full time as a media ethics professor. Anand, who has worked for various publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Boston Globe, will fill the position until a permanent candidate is selected. Anand said in an email to the Berkeley journalism community that her identity as a woman of color has shaped her career and that she plans to fight racism “with the utmost urgency.”

“I accept the job of interim dean at a historic moment when the pain, fury and activism unleashed by George Floyd’s death present us with the mandate and the opportunity to make transformative change,” Anand said in the email.

Anand joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 2018 and serves as the director of the Investigative Reporting Program. Her past journalistic work includes pieces holding governments accountable, investigative reporting and foreign correspondence. 

In 2003, she and a team of reporters won the Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles covering corporate scandals. Anand was also a 2004 Pulitzer Prize finalist for a piece on decision-making in health care. 

“I know how hard it is as a person to color and a woman to break into publications that have been historically dominated by white men, even when they have the very best of intentions,” Anand said in the email. “I am here today in part because people of color—most often, women of color—reached down to lift me up.” 

As dean, Anand said she plans to work with students to make the school and the field of journalism more representative of the United States and more accountable in response to student criticism about diversity. 

She added that she will be sending regular updates and will be holding weekly Zoom office hours to increase transparency.

“There have been too many statements of solidarity and not enough deeds,” Anand said in the email. “From now on, I urge you to pay more attention to what we do, rather than what we say. Hold us accountable.”

Another one of Anand’s goals is to increase the resources and funding the graduate school has access to, in order to increase support for first-generation students and Black, Indigenous and other students of color. 

She also plans to hire editors for the school’s publications — the Oakland North and Richmond Confidential — to improve the capacity of their coverage.

“At this moment when local journalism is struggling to survive, I will rededicate Berkeley Journalism to covering our communities,” Anand said in the email. “Not only is robust local news essential to democracy, but there is no better training ground for reporters.”

According to an email from UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos sent to staff, a permanent dean is expected to be selected in fall 2020.

Kate Finman is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.