After a national search, campus professor Geeta Anand was named dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism on Wednesday, making her the first woman to serve in the role.
William Drummond, journalism professor and Anand’s self-proclaimed biggest fan, said in an email that in Anand’s time as the school’s interim dean since June, she has brought “energy, enthusiasm, and optimism” to the school and increased communication and input from students, faculty and staff.
“I think it speaks to the progress an institution has made when a woman and a person of color is elevated to a position of leadership,” Anand said.
As dean, Anand said one of her goals is to diversify the school and the greater journalism industry. She added that she intends on raising a $100 million endowment to make the school’s tuition free so students can “focus on learning.”
Anand added that she has already begun fundraising for an emergency fund to help students meet their urgent needs.
“Journalism is such an important public service and democracy is really at stake, and journalism is low-paying in the initial years,” Anand said. “We have to find a way to make it tuition-free and lift the burden of financial costs for students so when they graduate, they are not leaving with $70,000 in debt.”
Anand also said she hopes to continue the work she began as interim dean toward making the school “anti-racist.” Prompted by the death of George Floyd, Berkeley Journalism staff and faculty formed working groups to address student experiences of systemic racism. Based on recommendations from those groups, the school is implementing a plan Anand developed that includes changes to the admissions process and the way events and speaker visits are planned so a “diversity of voices gets heard,” she said.
Neil Henry, former dean of Berkeley Journalism, said in an email that Anand’s “especially firm commitment to racial and gender diversity and equality” is significant in a time when society is increasingly focused on these issues.
In her role as dean, Anand said she also plans to improve the partnerships between the school and publications including The New York Times to give students a more apprenticeship-like experience at the school.
“We have waited for someone like Geeta for years,” said Berkeley Journalism professor emeritus Lydia Chavez. “She is a woman of color, she is incredibly super personable and she checks off all of the boxes. The university, to its credit, had the wisdom to hire her.”
Prior to coming to campus, Anand worked as a foreign correspondent in India for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, according to her Berkeley Journalism faculty profile.
While working for The Wall Street Journal, Anand shared the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for her stories on Wall Street corruption. She was also the lead reporter in a series on health care that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2003, according to the profile.
Anand is also the author of “The Cure,” a nonfiction book about a father who started a biotech company to make a medicine for his children’s untreatable illness, and the book was adapted in the 2010 film “Extraordinary Measures,” the profile states.
“She has an exemplary record as a journalist, so she brings a breadth of workplace experience, which is indispensable for the job,” said Anand’s predecessor Edward Wasserman. “She has distinguished herself during her time at Berkeley Journalism with a tremendous gift for dealing with students and colleagues in sometimes difficult situations.”