JMC Announces Leadership Change
School of Journalism and Mass Communication Director Thor Wasbotten has rejoined the School’s faculty and will serve as the College of Communication and Information’s Director of Community Engagement. As part of his community engagement role, Wasbotten will plan and execute a summer 2018 workshop for area high school students in partnership with the Center for Scholastic Journalism and will assist with student recruiting at national and state student journalism conventions. Wasbotten will continue to serve on Kent State President Beverly Warren’s Advisory Group on Student Retention and as President-Elect this year for the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication (he becomes the ASJMC President in 2018-19).
Professor Jeff Fruit, who directed JMC from 2002-2012, will serve as interim director. This fall, CCI will conduct a national search for a new school director.
“The past five years have been incredibly rewarding,” Wasbotten said. “I have appreciated the opportunity to lead this great school, our students, faculty and staff. I am looking forward to my next challenge, focusing on two priorities of Kent State’s Strategic Roadmap, putting Students First and increasing our Regional Impact.”
Since joining Kent State in 2012, Wasbotten has overseen the successful Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC) re-accreditation of the school and launched the Promising Scholars scholarship program, which awards high-achieving students with four-year scholarships and provides them with mentorship opportunities. Wasbotten also elevated the school’s strong performance in award competitions across all of JMC’s majors (which includes advertising, digital media production, journalism and public relations).
Additionally, under Wasbotten’s leadership the School created the Student Voice Team (SVT), whose mission is to advocate for the diversity and inclusion of students and to serve as ambassadors for the School. Wasbotten will continue to work with the SVT this year in his faculty role.
“Thor has brought great ideas and insights to the college’s leadership team,” said Amy Reynolds, Dean of CCI. “I appreciate his commitment to diversity and inclusion and his strong advocacy for the school and our students. Thor’s leadership has well-positioned the school to compete with the best media and journalism programs across the U.S.”
Wasbotten came to Kent State from Penn State University where he served as assistant dean for student media and online operations in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. Before joining Penn State, Wasbotten worked in television news management in Arizona and Idaho. He holds a Master of Science degree in journalism and communication from the University of Oregon and a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Southern California.