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School of Communication Names New Dean

By Rick Todd

Jeff Rutenbeck, American University's new School of Communication dean

American University has named communication technology expert Jeffrey Rutenbeck to be the new dean of the School of Communication (SOC).

Rutenbeck is currently a professor and the founding dean of the Division of Communication and Creative Media at Champlain College in Vermont. His academic focus has been on research on social and cultural change and the profound impact of digital technology on society. Rutenbeck will assume leadership of the school on July 1, 2012.
“Dr. Rutenbeck is an innovator with an abiding respect for tradition who represents the future of communication,” said Provost Scott Bass in announcing the appointment. “His experience aligns well with AU’s School of Communication, which is solidly positioned to take the lead in shaping the future of communication.”

“I'm honored and energized to join such an accomplished and dynamic community,” said Rutenbeck.  “The talent in the School of Communication is world class.”

Rutenbeck has consulted extensively with some of the world’s most prominent communication and technology enterprises including Time Warner, Microsoft and the USAF Space Command. He is the author of Tech Terms: What Every Telecommunications and Digital Media Professional Should Know and more than 30 journal articles and book chapters.
Under his leadership at Champlain College, he oversaw a tremendous expansion and integration of programs in communication, public relations, professional writing, graphic design and digital media and digital filmmaking along with groundbreaking undergraduate programs in game design, broadcast and streaming media, game art and animation, creative media and an MFA in emergent media.

For more than 40 years, American University’s School of Communication has delivered a professional education for undergraduate and graduate students, with a focus on public affairs and public service using the resources of Washington, D.C. The school features 14 degree programs including a newly introduced MA in Media Entrepreneurship that will begin in the fall of 2012. SOC boasts more than 50 faculty members and 1250 students, with small class sizes to emphasize a more hands-on approach to teaching.

The establishment of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking, Investigative Reporting Workshop, J-Lab: Institute for Interactive Journalism, and the Center for Social Media, along with strategic partnerships with major media organizations have showcased SOC’s reputation as a school willing to foster growth in innovative and unique educational communication programs.

Before working at Champlain College, Rutenbeck served at the University of Denver’s School of Communication as both a member of the faculty and administration for 17 years. He holds a BA in history and political science from Colorado College, an MA in journalism from University of Missouri-Columbia, and a PhD in communication from the University of Washington.

Rutenbeck succeeds Dean Larry Kirkman who will return to teaching in SOC.