Hart named dean of College of Communication, launches campaign for new building

May 19, 2005

AUSTIN, Texas—Dr. Roderick P. Hart has been named dean of the College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin after serving as interim dean since June 1, 2004. He replaces Dr. Ellen Wartella who joined the University of California Riverside as executive vice chancellor and provost last year.

Dr. Roderick P. Hart
Dr. Roderick P. Hart
Photo: Melanie Riddick

One of Hart’s chief priorities as dean will be to raise funds for a new communication building to serve as a center for cutting-edge research and teaching about media convergence, which is rapidly changing the way people use mass media. A building design and budget have yet to be determined. The existing College of Communication building, which was completed in 1974 for 1,000 students, accommodates more than 4,000 students and more than 120 faculty members who are spread across campus in other buildings.

“Rod’s mix of imagination, leadership, passion and scholarship are the right match for the college’s leadership needs,” said Sheldon Ekland-Olson, executive vice president and provost at The University of Texas at Austin. “I am very pleased he has agreed to serve.”

In addition to focusing on space needs, Hart plans to address other pressing issues such as addressing faculty compensation and recruitment, increasing the college’s research profile and enhancing student enrichment programs.

“I am honored to have been chosen to lead the college at this time,” Hart said.  “I plan to build on such assets as our innovative film initiative and the heritage of the School of Journalism. In an age requiring information literacy and polished communication and media skills, communication is becoming a crucial element in our culturally complex and economically uncertain society. As a result, it is incumbent upon the college to pursue a more aggressive and sophisticated dialogue with society at large.”

Hart, who joined the Department of Communication Studies faculty in the College of Communication in 1979, holds the Allan Shivers Centennial Chair in Communication and Government and is a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at The University of Texas at Austin. His area of special interest is politics and the mass media, which led to his founding of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation to respond to growing political cynicism in the United States. He also is the author of 11 books about political communication.

Hart earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts and his master’s and doctor’s degrees from the Pennsylvania State University.

About the College of Communication

Established in 1899 as the Department of Public Speaking, the College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin is the largest and most comprehensive communication college in the country. With 4,200 students and 120 faculty members, the college features nationally recognized researchers in all five of its highly ranked academic units: Advertising, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Communication Studies, Journalism and Radio-Television-Film. Distinguished alumni and former students include: Liz Carpenter, author and former press secretary to first lady, Lady Bird Johnson; Walter Cronkite; Karen Elliott House, publisher of the Wall Street Journal; first lady, Lady Bird Johnson; and public affairs television journalist Bill Moyers. The college includes among its former students 20 Pulitzer Prize winners.

For more information contact: Erin Geisler, College of Communication, 512-475-8071.