Welcome Back Note From Dean Geeta Anand

January 18, 2023

Dear Berkeley Journalism Community,

Welcome back and Happy New Year!

I’d like to share some news and reflect on the school’s accomplishments in 2022 in order to recognize the hard work of our incredible staff, instructors and students. I’ll also outline some goals for 2023.

Dinner with members of the NAHJ Chapter.

I hope you saw the news that the university reached an agreement with the UAW workers before the holiday. We’ll learn more about the impact in the coming weeks and will share that information with you as soon as we can. I look forward to many opportunities for us to gather again in community together at the J-School after this fraught period that I know was really difficult for so many of us.

I’m going to hold office hours this semester weekly on Wednesdays from 4-5 p.m. and continue to host affinity group dinners at my home. I treasure these gatherings as opportunities for me to get to know students and better understand the issues they care about.

We’ll also hold monthly “Chat with the Dean” sessions in the LMC from 12:15-1 p.m. on Jan. 18, Feb. 22, March 22 and April 26. At these meetings I will give you updates on various projects the school is engaged in and I’ll hold discussions on timely topics.

It takes a team that is passionate and committed to accomplish all that we did in 2022. This note is not only to share our many successes, but also to express gratitude to all of you who played key roles. In doing so, I want to acknowledge that we made mistakes along the way — and to ask for the community’s grace as we continue to learn and grow together. Speaking of which, as I recognize those who played significant roles in our success, I also ask for your grace if I inadvertently omit some.

In 2022, I am proudest of:

  • Supporting our graduating students and strengthening local journalism by securing $25 million in state funds to give out in fellowships to work in local journalism in California. Thanks to Steve Katz who played a key role. I’m thrilled that Christa Scharfenberg took on a leadership role.
  • Bringing on Shereen Marisol Meraji as our newest faculty member, strengthening instruction on race and journalism as well as audio journalism. Thanks to Queena Kim who helped recruit Shereen.

From left to right: Dean’s Fellows Celeste Hamilton-Dennis, Bria Suggs, Jeremiah Rhodes and Emma Garcia. Photo Buddy Terry ’23

  • Continuing our anti-racism work by bringing in the Restorative Justice Center to teach its approach to resolving grievances to our first-year students and our staff; partnering with the Center for Teaching and Learning to revise our school’s curriculum to diversify it and meet our industry’s needs; instituting training for new instructors that includes more effective pedagogy and strategies for reducing microaggressions and handling them when they occur; diversifying our Advisory Board with a third stellar new member, Kathy Im, who joins Ron Nixon and Andrea Wishom Young as recently added board members; raising funding for four more scholarships for first-generation college students, and strengthening the dean’s fellowship program with more funding and additional advising. (More progress on implementing the plan below.)
  • Adding a race and journalism class to our curriculum. Thanks to Lisa Armstrong for teaching this class, which is part of our anti-racism plan.
  • Hiring nine exceptional staff leaders including Steve Katz as head of fundraising, Amy Utstein as leader of our staff, Christa Scharfenberg as director of our new local journalism program, Mallory Newman as special adviser and executive assistant to the dean, Liana Hsu as head of admissions, Jon Phillips as head of academic HR, and Daniel Márquez as assistant director of student services; Anh Tran as a deputy fundraiser to work with Steve, Lia Swindle as head of alumni affairs and external events; and promoting Blaine Jones to senior director of student affairs.
  • Publishing excellent work by our students, faculty and staff, with the editing leadership of David Barstow, Bernice Yeung and Christine Schiavo, among others. These stories have included Meg Shutzer and Rachel Lauren Mueller’s (‘20) investigation into the sexual abuse of minors in a juvenile detention center in New Orleans that ran on page one and four inside pages of The New York Times; and the story by Brian Howey (‘22) and Wesley Lowery on police shootings that ran on page one in the Washington Post. Bashirah Mack (‘22) and Katie Licari-Kozak (‘22) also contributed reporting. Read my latest Dean’s Quarterly Newsletter to appreciate the vast volume and incredible excellence of the work coming out of the school.
  • Securing campus approval for two new faculty positions — the first in data journalism and the second in journalism about climate change or technology and disinformation. We are recruiting stellar and diverse pools of candidates for both positions. Thanks to Richard Koci Hernandez and David Barstow who are chairing the search committees. And to Edward Wasserman, Ken Light, Elena Conis, Shereen Marisol Meraji and Bill Drummond who are serving on the committees, together with students Agnes (Xueer) Lu, Brian Nguyen and Pamela Estrada. Thanks to Elena for serving on both committees and Jon Phillips and Anastacia Kaser for their work advising and coordinating them. Amy Utstein played a herculean role keeping the searches going during a staff transition.
  • Developing a proposal to create a new fully-online master’s degree in data and visual journalism that will start in 2025. Raising money for startup costs and submitting the proposal to campus leadership. Thanks to Vicki Hammarstedt and Richard Koci Hernandez, as well as Steve Katz and Amy Utstein for your key roles.
  • Developing a draft of the school’s five-year strategic plan with a mission to change who gets to be a journalist in the world. Thanks to Steve Katz, as well as our executive committee, advisory board, students and faculty for playing vital roles.
  • Expanding our international journalism program by raising funds to create a China journalism program with a first class last spring taught by Edward Wong and Amy Qin. Sarah Schafer joins Edward teaching the class this spring. We also created a scholarship for a student interested in developing expertise on China, which was awarded to Marissa Muller (‘24) and a prize for the best student journalism about China. Thanks to Jeremy Rue for leading the hiring and Steve Katz and Anh Tran for working closely with Bak Chan and other donors on the support.
  • Further expanding our international reporting program by raising funds to create a Latin America journalism class and hiring an excellent instructor, Tifani Roberts, to teach the first class this spring. Thanks to Emeritus Professor Lydia Chavez and her family for supporting this and Jeremy Rue for leading the hiring.
  • Exploring the creation of a new business journalism program by securing funding to hire Caleb Solomon, former top editor at The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, to study the feasibility of creating a joint business journalism program between Berkeley Journalism and the Haas School of Business to teach our students how to produce journalism that holds the powerful to account in the business world. He begins this week. Thanks to Ann Harrison, dean of Haas, for her partnership, as well as Steve Katz for supporting this effort.

    Student, staff and faculty children and dogs trick-or-treating at North Gate Hall.

  • Strengthening the emotional, psychological and spiritual health of our community, and building a better sense of belonging, with new programming that includes weekly meditations at our school at 7 p.m. on Sundays with Will Kabat-Zinn, biweekly Zumba classes led by Alfredo Torres (‘23), monthly faculty mixers, and a faculty-staff lunch each semester. We hosted a full day of de-stressing events in the spring. Thanks to Mallory Newman and Aysha Pettigrew for important organizing work here; and Grace Galletti (‘23) and Journalists Alliance for Mental Health for their partnership.
  • Co-creating the multidisciplinary Our Better Web coalition of six campus deans and academic leaders to craft proposed solutions to combat disinformation and misinformation. This included a disinformation class taught by Queena Kim and Aaron Glantz bringing students from journalism, law, computer science and public policy together to produce solutions-oriented audio stories that aired on KGO, Futuro Media’s Latino Rebels and on two shows on KALX.
  • Reopening admissions after the deadline had passed to consider applications from Afghan refugees and admitting and raising funding to support two students, Najim Rahim and Khwaga Ghani. Great work by Steve Katz, Blaine Jones and Jeremy Rue making all of this happen.

    Jeremy Rue and Blaine Jones at the 2022 NABJ-NAHJ Convention and Career Fair in Las Vegas.

  • Significantly increasing recruiting for admissions at community and state colleges around California, in addition to journalism conferences. In the face of diminishing applications nationally, we were able to reverse course and land with a modest increase over last year. Liana Hsu, Andrés Cediel, Blaine Jones, Jeremy Rue and Lisa Armstrong played important roles here.
  • Securing paid summer internships for 96% of our students. Congrats to Betsy Rate for her leadership here, and the generous support of the Knight Foundation.
  • Providing stellar instruction even when we had to teach remotely. Our tech experts Chuck Harris, Rick Johnson, Chris O’Dea, Mark Ingles, Topher Routh and Jeremy Rue played key roles here.
  • Keeping the school running despite major transitions in staff leadership. I want to note, in particular, the efforts of Blaine Jones, Amy Utstein, Jeremy Rue, Mallory Newman, Charlotte Hryse and Marlena Telvick, whose efforts were truly heroic.

    Staff and faculty holiday party at the Women’s Faculty Club.

  • Expanding the year-round undergraduate minor, aiming to offer more classes each semester. Thanks to my predecessor, former dean Edward Wasserman, who pushed to make this happen. And to David Thigpen for coordinating, as well as Bill Drummond, Edward Wasserman, Richard Koci Hernandez and Jeremy Rue for being pioneers in teaching this undergraduate rollout.
  • Deepening the partnership between the Investigative Reporting Program and the Human Rights Center as David Barstow, Gisela Pérez de Acha and Alexa Koenig from the Human Rights Center experimented in how to teach the evolving craft of OSINT reporting.

My goals for our school in 2023 are to:

  • Build a robust local journalism fellowship program that this summer begins giving out $25 million in fellowships granted by the state to our graduates and others.
  • Hire the two new professorships of data journalism and journalism about climate change or disinformation to begin this July.
  • Continue to implement our anti-racism plan, including by creating a visiting scholar program bringing in a leading journalist for one week to teach and mentor students; finish revising our curriculum using an anti-racism lens and taking into account the changing needs of our industry; conduct anti-bias training for the staff; and conduct restorative justice training for the faculty and next cohort of students; hold our annual workshop on the anti-racism plan to keep revising and updating.
  • Fundraise for substantially more financial aid for students. As part of our anti-racism plan, fine-tune and launch an ambitious fundraising campaign to support our strategic plan that includes a substantial increase in financial aid for our students, among other things.
  • As part of our anti-racism plan, continue to expand admissions recruiting at HBCUs, community and state colleges around California and at affinity group conferences to increase the pool of students from historically underrepresented groups.
  • As part of our anti-racism plan, move to make a course on race and journalism mandatory.
  • Host a farewell fundraiser for Michael Pollan and create a new visiting professorship in narrative writing in his honor.
  • Finish fundraising for a new master’s degree in data and visual journalism and obtain campus approval for this new degree program to begin in 2025.
  • Create a more robust budgetary process as part of a plan to raise more revenue and better anticipate and plan for expenses with the goal of reducing the school’s structural budget deficit and put in place a plan to eliminate it in the coming years.
  • Reassess our school’s revenue-generating programs, making the changes necessary to optimize revenue. This may include moving more of our summer undergraduate minor classes to online instruction.
  • Together, with the campus coalition of Our Better Web campus leaders, publish a white paper and op-ed articles in mainstream media about ways to combat disinformation and misinformation — in particular, deep fakes. The campus coalition includes Hany Farid, professor at the School of Information who is the world expert on deep fakes; Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law, arguably the world expert on the First Amendment; Janet Napolitano, director for the Center for Security in Politics on campus, Brandie Nonnecke, director of CITRIS Policy Lab on campus.
  • Continue to strengthen our international reporting education. Add an expanded journalism program in India to our newly funded China and Latin America programs. Fundraise and plan for an India journalism internship opportunity every summer at the Indian Express Newspaper in New Delhi, bringing Berkeley Journalism students together with a cohort of staff members of this newspaper to jointly learn and publish investigative stories.
  • Create the new climate change initiative that is part of our strategic plan. To do so, work with David Ackerly, dean of the Rausser College of Natural Resources, to build a collaboration between journalism and climate change experts across campus to jointly publish stories that have an impact on the public’s understanding of this existential threat to humankind. Reinvent ways of storytelling to pierce the public’s imperviousness to news about climate change and cross the political divide.
  • Continue to expand our year-round undergraduate minor with more courses each semester.

Building on the successes of last year, I look forward to working with each and every one of you incredible people to make 2023 another remarkable year here at Berkeley Journalism!

See you all soon at North Gate Hall!

Geeta

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