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ASU Names Callahan Founding Dean of Cronkite School

May 25, 2005

Christopher Callahan, who helped lead the University of Maryland’s journalism program to national prominence as the school’s associate dean, will become the founding dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

The Cronkite School, which has been part of ASU’s College of Public Programs, will become a separate unit on July 1. Callahan will start in August as the school’s first dean.

He will lead a nationally accredited, professionally oriented program with 22 full-time faculty members, about 600 majors, 1,200 pre-majors and 70 master’s students studying print and broadcast journalism and public relations. The school, now on the Tempe campus, is scheduled to move into a new building on ASU’s planned downtown Phoenix campus in fall 2008.

“The Cronkite School will be one of the pillars of an important new campus for the university,” said ASU Executive Vice President and Provost Milton Glick. “But the school’s transformation into a separate unit and its relocation downtown is more than a physical and organizational move. These are extraordinary changes that will enable the school to move in new and exciting directions. Chris Callahan impressed us by laying out a tentative agenda, which he will refine with the help of faculty and staff, to capitalize on this opportunity.“

Callahan, 45, joined Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism in 1990 as director of the Capital News Service in Annapolis, an intensive public affairs reporting program in which students cover state government and produce breaking and in-depth stories for daily newspapers throughout the region. He was appointed assistant dean in 1993, and associate dean five years later.

He directed the Capital News Service programs in Annapolis and Washington, spearheaded moves to bring the National Association of Black Journalists and the university’s television station to the college, directed the master’s program and the adjunct faculty, recruited Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists to the faculty, led successful efforts to launch a Web-based newsmagazine and a nightly TV newscast that now reaches 500,000 area households, and assisted in the college’s major fund-raising efforts. He also has taught more than a dozen different courses.

“Chris Callahan brings a wonderful combination of experience as a reporter and success in the academic world to this position,” said Mark Jacobs, dean of ASU’s Barrett Honors College and chairman of the search committee. “He understands the balance between theory in the classroom and practice in the newsroom.”

Maryland Journalism Dean Thomas Kunkel called Callahan “one of the most talented administrators in journalism education,” adding that he has been “instrumental in Maryland’s rise to prominence. His departure leaves a large hole in our operation, but the ASU job is one of the best jobs in the field.”

Callahan also has served as a senior editor of American Journalism Review and is a regular contributor to the national media magazine, which is published by the Maryland journalism school.

His research interests center around journalism ethics and diversity. Last summer he led a joint study by Maryland and UNITY: Journalists of Color Inc. that explored the lack of racial diversity in the Washington press corps.

He also is the author of “A Journalist’s Guide to the Internet,” now in its second edition, and gives seminars and workshops on the topic to newsrooms and professional journalism organizations around the country.

Callahan said the Cronkite School is ideally situated to become the nation’s next great journalism school by drawing on its strong foundation of the past and ASU President Michael Crow’s vision of the future.

“The Walter Cronkite School has long embodied the values of its namesake - one of the great figures in the history of American journalism - by focusing on producing smart, objective and fair journalists,” Callahan said. “Now the school - as a stand-alone college that will be a centerpiece of a new and dynamic downtown Phoenix campus - is poised to take its next great leap forward, carrying out Dr. Crow’s vision of a journalism school that is an integral part of the community and region.”

Callahan said the school will embrace the new and different ways to deliver news through emerging technologies. But he said what is needed most in today’s rapidly changing media landscape is a journalism program that blends the teaching of traditional skills - in-depth, comprehensive reporting and clear and compelling writing - with an intense focus on the core journalistic values of fairness, accuracy, objectivity and ethical surety.

Before entering journalism education, Callahan was a correspondent for The Associated Press in Washington, Boston, Providence, R.I., Augusta, Maine, and Concord, N.H. He specialized in political and government coverage.

He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University’s School of Public Communication in 1982 and a master’s in public affairs from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1990.

A New York native, he lives in Great Falls, Va., with his wife, Jean Callahan, a human resources consultant, and their two sons, Cody, 13, and Casey, 8.