Los Angeles–The University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism announced that Geneva Overholser, who has led the School of Journalism since 2008, will complete her term as director and leave USC in June 2013. USC Annenberg has launched a recruitment campaign for her successor.
“Geneva Overholser is a visionary leader who has spent her career focused on how to make journalism excellent in every way — more inclusive, more democratic, more focused on civic engagement,” said USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III. “When she agreed to put her experience and energy toward the education of the next generation of journalists for a five-year term here at USC Annenberg, we knew we were embarking on a revolutionary time for the school. Geneva has set the bar very high for her successor.”
During the past four years, USC Annenberg’s journalism school has transformed its curriculum, strengthened its digital expertise and doubled the size of the public relations program faculty. Overall, 12 faculty members have been added to the Journalism School.
Overholser launched several key initiatives at Annenberg, including Neon Tommy, the award-winning Annenberg digital news site, along with civic engagement projects such as Intersections South LA, a hyper-local news site.
“It has been a remarkable four years, and we have big things on the agenda for this year as well,” said Overholser. “My time as director of this school has been enormously rewarding, and it is gratifying to see the results of our efforts in the success of our students.”
“Along with our exceptional faculty, we are creating a new kind of journalism school — innovative, collaborative and inclusive of all voices,” Overholser continued. “It’s a magical place, and my husband and I will miss USC Annenberg, along with Los Angeles, when we return to New York next summer. We look forward to continuing to work with others on reinventing news and information in the public interest at this exciting moment.”
Under Overholser’s direction, USC Annenberg has closely aligned and strengthened the curriculum and news laboratories to give students a deeper practicum experience. Partnerships with outside media organizations have expanded dramatically, giving journalism and public relations students the opportunity to work alongside professionals in their fields and to build career experience as they pursue their degrees.
Overholser enriched the representation of diverse voices throughout the School, culminating in the 2012 national diversity award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). The award cited the school’s curriculum enhancements, recruitment and retention of students and faculty and its relationships with such organizations as the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. The AEJMC committee also said the school’s diversity report, “Celebrating Difference,” offered a blueprint for other U.S. journalism and mass communication schools.
This month, USC Annenberg broke ground on a new 88,000-square-foot building with a 20,000-square-foot digitally converged newsroom for collaboration and production among all USC Annenberg students — communication, journalism and public relations. The new building will feature an ultramodern interior with a four-story atrium, a rooftop skylight and a multistory digital media tower showcasing student programming along with social media and live broadcast news. The structure itself is a physical manifestation of USC Annenberg’s dedication to transparency, collaboration and experimentation, all of which have been championed by Overholser.
Overholser came to USC Annenberg from the Missouri School of Journalism, where she held the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Reporting, based in the school’s Washington bureau. Her career has included positions at The Washington Post, The New York Times and Colorado Springs Sun. From 1988-1995, Overholser was editor of The Des Moines Register, where she led the paper to a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
“During this academic year, Geneva will be engaged in the very important work of leading the school, undertaking major curricular reviews, thinking about new courses, innovating how we teach and serve the community and continuing her work as a public intellectual in the field of journalism,” said Wilson.
“Her accomplishments in just a few years are extraordinary. The Columbia Journalism Review got it right when they included Geneva on its list of 40 women who changed the media business during the past 40 years. USC Annenberg will be forever in her debt for the path she has forged in directing a school to greater heights. For me, Geneva has been a wonderful colleague, close friend and collaborator in moving the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism into the future.”