College of Media dean search continues

Despite the hiring freeze in place at the University, administrators are still searching for a new dean of the College of Media.

“The search is still alive,” said Richard Wheeler, vice provost and interim vice chancellor for academic affairs.

However, Wheeler said the search is “suspended” in the sense that he is still not authorized to make an appointment at this time.

The four finalist candidates include Laurence Alexander, associate dean at the University of Florida Graduate School; John Pavlik, professor at Rutgers University; Steve Jones, professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago; and Gary Kebbel, journalism program director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“I’m talking with a couple of really excellent candidates for the job,” Wheeler said. “We do have two strong candidates, and the college very much wants one of them to come and be their dean.”

Wheeler said it has been a well-rounded search but two of the candidates did especially well, although he would not specify which two these were. He added that there are still other consultations that have to be done on campus, such as a meeting with the chancellor.

The four finalist candidates each made a visit to campus between Nov. 30 and Dec. 15 to meet with campus groups and deliver a public presentation.

“All of the candidates were here for a two-day visit to campus and they all went very well,” said Ruth Watkins, head of the search committee and dean of the College of LAS. “They’re strong individuals from a variety of backgrounds.”

Pavlik, who visited campus Dec. 7, said he met a lot of interesting students, faculty and alumni of the college.


“I enjoyed meeting people and finding out about the challenges and opportunities facing the college,” Pavlik said.“I think there’s tremendous potential for the college, especially at this time when the media are going through a dramatic series of changes,” he said. “The impact of media in people’s lives has never been greater.”

Steve Jones, who visited campus Dec. 8, said he is waiting along with everyone else to see what happens with the state budget and funding for the University.


“We’re all operating under financial constraints and the University of Illinois is no different in that situation than most other universities, including my own,” said Laurence Alexander, who visited campus Nov. 30.


Gary Kebbel, the fourth candidate for the position, did not respond to multiple phone calls for comment.


Wheeler said he and Interim Chancellor and Provost Robert Easter will appoint the new dean.

“There is a hiring freeze on and we have to figure out a way to get around that if we go forward with this,” Wheeler added. “It’s a little bit up in the air right now.”

The chosen finalist will replace Interim Dean Walt Harrington.