J-School dean steps down

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Boulder Weekly Staff | Boulder Weekly

Paul Voakes, dean of the University of Colorado at Boulder’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, announced today that he will step down as dean and join the teaching faculty of the school, effective June 30, 2011.

Voakes has been dean of the school since the school hired him in 2003.

In August, the journalism school began undergoing a “discontinuance” process in which parts of the school may be merged with other programs within a new college. Voakes had come under criticism prior to that, in an April letter to Chancellor Phil DiStefano from alum and donor Doug Looney, a former Sports Illustrated writer and former member of the school’s advisory board who questioned the dean’s leadership. (See Oct. 28 Boulder Weekly story.)

“Leading the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at CU-Boulder has been an honor and a privilege,” Voakes said in a press release. “I believe over the last seven years we have confronted profound transformations in journalism and mass communication, ushered in important changes in journalism education, and produced a new generation of journalists and communicators ready to meet still more challenges and changes. I now look forward to returning to the faculty and continuing this important work with our students.”

CU-Boulder Provost Russell L. Moore praised Voakes’ service to the school and said he will begin working on finding an interim dean for the school to take over for Voakes next summer.

“Paul Voakes has led our journalism program in the most difficult time in its history,” Moore said in a press release. “He has done so with character and compassion, while being a key part of the academic leadership of CU-Boulder. We thank him for his dedicated service to the university and welcome him back to the classroom.

“It will be valuable to have Dean Voakes in place through the conclusion of both the program discontinuance review currently under way and the completion of the work of the Exploratory Committee on Information, Communication and Technology,” Moore added. “This will provide us continuity as we examine all of our options and recommendations that ensure our course and degree offerings meet the needs of students, the labor market, our campus mission and the communications needs of a rapidly changing global society.”

Voakes holds an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of California at Davis, an M.A. degree in journalism from UC-Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin.

Voakes got his first full-time journalism job in 1975 at the Palo Alto Times, where he was a reporter, and later the paper’s business editor, according to the CU faculty/staff newspaper Silver & Gold Record. He went on to serve as editorial page editor for the Peninsula Times Tribune, then was hired by the San Jose Mercury News, where he worked as an editorial writer and op-ed columnist until 1990.

Starting in 1983, he started teaching courses on writing, reporting and editing at UC-Berkeley, and then at Stanford University.

After earning his Ph.D. in 1994, he was hired as an assistant professor by Indiana University. He was named associate professor there in 2001 before taking the CU J-School dean’s position in 2003, succeeding Del Brinkman.