Kent State Hires Former Media Executive to Lead Its School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Thor Wasbotten hired as the director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) at Kent State University has hired Thor Wasbotten as its new director. Wasbotten will join the university July 1 to replace Jeff Fruit, who steps down after 10 years as the school's leader to teach full time.

Wasbotten most recently served as the assistant dean for student media and online operations at The Pennsylvania State University, where he also was a senior lecturer of journalism. 

"Mr. Wasbotten comes to Kent State University with strong leadership experience in several important arenas: television, student media, academics and accreditation," said Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D., dean of the College of Communication and Information at Kent State. "He is highly regarded both in the media industry and in the academic community. He is a skilled communicator and a visionary with regard to both media technology and curriculum. We are confident he will be a great asset to the College of Communication and Information leadership team."

Wasbotten's former academic appointments include time as a visiting professor at the Shanghai International Studies University; participation in the Broadcasters-in-Residence Program at the University of Oklahoma; and teaching as an instructor at Pacific University and as a gradate fellow at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Ore.

His extensive professional experience includes: partner and managing director of compliance for Blue Heron Research Partners, LLC, in New York City (January 2006 – present); president of Real Media Strategies, LLC, in State College, Pa., (March 2007 – present); news director of KGUN 9-TV, ABC affiliate, Tucson, Ariz., (July 2001 – July 2004); station manager of KTRV-TV, Fox affiliate, Boise, Idaho, (October 2000 – July 2001); news director of  KTRV-TV, Fox affiliate, Boise, Idaho, (December 1998 – October 2000); managing editor of KTVB-TV, NBC affiliate, Boise, Idaho, (July 1996 – December 1998); and weekend assignments editor of KOIN-TV, CBS affiliate, Portland, Ore., (February 1994 – July 1996).

Wasbotten holds a Master of Science degree in journalism and communication with a secondary specialty in counseling from the University of Oregon; a certificate from the Teaching Fellows Workshop at Indiana University; a micro MBA certificate from the Center for Management Development at Boise State University; and a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism with a secondary specialty in counseling from the University of Southern California.

A notable leader in electronic news, Wasbotten is a member of the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Association for Education in Journalism and Communication and the Broadcast Education Association. He has served as a site visit team member for the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication since 2001, as an editorial board member for Electronic News: A Journal of Applied Research and Ideas since 2003 and as an advisory board member for PSNtv at Penn State since 2004. He was the director for The Pennsylvania State University Institute for High School Broadcast Journalists (2006-2008); a host for the Hearst Visitor Program at Penn State (2008); and a moderator or panelist at numerous conferences and workshops (2004-present). He was the chairperson of the Fox News Advisory Committee (1999-2000) and the Northwest/Mountain Region representative (1999-2001).

"I look forward to working with a tremendous faculty with strong academic and professional credentials," Wasbotten said. "I'm eager to work in a building which serves as a national model for effective infrastructure and educational support, and I'm excited to serve the energized and engaged JMC students who believe in Kent State and their education."

In its 75th year, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State is a leading accredited journalism school with cutting-edge curriculum and facilities. The school's mission is focused on understanding the media marketplace and media-related careers while providing professional undergraduate and master's programs within the liberal arts tradition. JMC teaches its students to gather information, to present it clearly and to think critically within a legal and ethical framework. It serves as a resource for professional practitioners, for media consumers and for Kent State. For more information, visit

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Media Contact:
Jennifer Kramer, APR,, 330-672-1960
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 04:33 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 22, 2023 02:24 PM
Center for Scholastic Journalism