Press Release

Neil Henry named dean of Graduate School of Journalism

| 08 May 2009

Award-winning journalist, author and professor Neil Henry has been chosen as dean of the University of California, Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, a post he has held on a transitional basis since 2007.

In making the announcement yesterday (Thursday, May 7), Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer praised Henry's "competence, dedication and skill," which he said had been clearly evidenced by Henry's leadership at the school since the departure two years ago of Orville Schell, the previous dean.

"We are convinced more than ever that the finest possible dean for the Graduate School of Journalism, at this time and going forward, is the person who has led it through these past two years with such class and devotion," said Breslauer.

"These are incredibly challenging but exciting times in journalism filled with possibility," Henry said. "Berkeley is determined to remain a world leader in educating the new generation while also envisioning the future of this most important calling."

Under Henry's stewardship, the school has established a trail-blazing digital news initiative funded by the Ford Foundation to provide news to neglected Bay Area communities and has integrated multimedia training as a requirement for all students at the graduate school.

The author of the 2007 book, "American Carnival: Journalism Under Siege in an Age of New Media," Henry has underscored UC Berkeley's central role in the discussion about the future of journalism and new media. In the fall the school will host a national conference at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., focused on future business models for media and journalism.

Henry also has strengthened school ties with both private donors and new major philanthropies. He launched the first-ever collaboration between a journalism school and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and in the past year has raised more than $5 million for the school's new initiatives, including two endowed chairs.

Henry earned a bachelor's degree in political science at Princeton University in 1977 and a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 1978. He worked for 16 years as a metro, national and foreign correspondent for the Washington Post and was a staff writer for Newsweek magazine before joining the Berkeley faculty in 1993.

A former John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, Henry remains an active reporter, filing stories on developments in Darfur, following the former baseball player Barry Bonds, writing on the way in which race is portrayed in the news, and observing the evolution of journalism education. He is also reporting on his own role in launching a journalism school in Ethiopia.

"Pearl's Secret: A Black Man's Search for His White Family" Henry's autobiographical family history, was a finalist for the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association's top prize for nonfiction in 2002.

The Graduate School of Journalism each year graduates approximately 55 student journalists who focus on print, broadcast or new media. Its faculty includes journalists such as Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Lowell Bergman; New York Times Magazine contributor Cynthia Gorney; Michael Pollan, author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma;" and Mark Danner, who recently wrote extensively about a leaked International Committee of the Red Cross memo detailing American torture of prisoners during the George W. Bush administration.

The journalism school is home to the Berkeley-China Internet Project, a faculty-student research project focused on Chinese cyberspace, and the Knight Digital Media Center. It also is affiliated with the Public Broadcasting Service's award-winning "Frontline/World" public affairs documentary series.

Henry, 55, is married to Letitia Lawson, a senior lecturer in political science at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. They have one daughter.