Journalism Schools in Search of New Leaders

This year marks substantial change for two of the top journalism schools in the country as leaders of both the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and the Columbia Journalism School plan to step down at the end of the academic year.  Each dean is credited with bringing their programs into the ever-developing social media driven era by introducing new classes and educating students on the best way to tell a story with different platforms, whether it radio, video or writing.

Back in October, Nicholas Lemann handed in his resignation at Columbia saying in an interview with The Daily Beast that, “it’s just the way life works.”  He continued to explain that his departure was not due to any ill will after navigating the school through a “turbulent decade,” but that it was just his time to move on.  Over the past ten years, Lemann has shifted the school from a print heavy program to a more multi-platform experience for students.

In his tenure, Lemann brought on 20 new staff members and introduced a second more specialized program, according to The New York Times.  Lee C. Bollinger, the university’s president, is expecting Lemann’s successor to be savvy with digital media as the school starts to introduce new media to its programs.

Stephan B. Shepard, the founding dean of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, also announced earlier this week that he would be stepping down.  “It just feels like the right time,” he said in an interview with The New York Times.  “The school is well established now.  It just feels like the right time to turn it over to somebody else.”

It was back in 2005 when Shepard joined CUNY to help start a journalism school; the first and only public graduate journalism program in the northeast.  The first class graduated in December 2007 and Shepard intends to stay on to watch the seventh commencement of the 2013 class.

Since inception, the CUNY j-school has nearly doubled the size of each class from 57 students the first year to nearly 100 expected to graduate this coming December.  Shepard, who left his job as editor-in-chief at BusinessWeek to start the new program, has worked closely with faculty and staff to make the school a top contender in its field.

Both schools continue to see changes to the curriculum in order to keep up with advances in the industry.  CUNY dropped the requirement for students to choose a track in print, interactive, or broadcast, allowing for a more well rounded education.  Columbia followed suit and implemented a similar change for their 2013-2014 class.

With the announcement of Shepard’s resignation only a few days ago, officials at CUNY expect to start a search for a replacement soon.  Columbia’s search has already begun with the help of Bollinger, but a decision has yet to be made.

About Sean Flynn

Sean Flynn is a recent graduate from City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. His work has appeared in The Buffalo News, Condé Nast Traveler, The New York Times 'Fort Greene Local', The Daily Meal, and FoxNews.com.
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