Memorandum June 24, 2019
- AU & WCL Faculty and Staff
- Daniel J. Myers, Provost
- Jeff Rutenbeck, Dean of the School of Communication
As announced last month, Jeff Rutenbeck, dean of the School of Communication, will be leaving his current position to become the provost at Arcadia University. Jeff made countless contributions to our community during his tenure, and his lasting impact on American University will not soon be forgotten.
Jeff’s commitment to faculty, staff, and students is exemplary. As dean, he provided significantly increased internal support for faculty research, creative, and professional work, and Academic Analytics recently placed SOC faculty in the top five in the nation in terms of impact. Under Jeff’s leadership, SOC has consistently had the highest (or second highest) undergraduate retention and graduation rates at the university. He has also launched a variety of new programs and initiatives, including SOC’s first fully online master’s program in strategic communication—now the largest graduate program in SOC. Jeff took the lead, in partnership with Peter Starr and the College of Arts and Sciences, on founding the Game Design and Persuasive Play Initiative—and the master’s program in game design is now ranked in the top 25 in the world by the Princeton Review. He also established the highly successful “Films Across Borders” series.
Jeff and the School of Communication team generated more than $25 million in gifts and grants over the past seven years. With funding from the Knight Foundation, they created and introduced the JoLT program, which explored connections among game design, systems thinking, and journalism leadership. Jeff also led the $26 million renovation of the McKinley Building, which SOC occupied in 2014.
He has helped facilitate networking and educational opportunities for SOC students, redesigning the NYC Site Visit Program and launching the LA Intensive, which is now in its second year. He also expanded the Dean’s Internship Program, which helps students gain professional experience with NPR, the Smithsonian, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Bloomberg BNA, Voice of America, and many other marquee organizations. His work to build valuable partnerships has also benefited the larger university community. Jeff has led the AU-Sony partnership, which resulted in almost a dozen different projects ranging from East Campus to the augmented reality tour app. He also managed multi-year partnerships with ETS and Deloitte.
Jeff has devoted his time and energy to advance many institutional priorities. He was part of the senior leadership team for the RiSE Initiative (Reinventing the Student Experience), co-designed the RiSE Roadmap, and was responsible for AU’s involvements with Wegmans and The Cleveland Clinic. He co-chaired the Research Systems and Innovation Task Force, served on the University Budget Committee and PMP redesign team, and participated in a variety of working groups connected to the latest AU strategic planning process. He has served as co-chair of the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion for the past two years and consistently worked toward inclusive excellence within SOC. He created SOC’s inclusion officer and inclusion coordinator positions, expanded the representation and responsibilities of the SOC Diversity Committee, created training and development programs for all SOC leadership and launched SOC’s first regular Faculty/Staff Climate Survey.
In 2017, Jeff was named a fellow in the fifth cohort of the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership, a highly selective national executive program run by Georgetown University and Arizona State University. It is no surprise that he has been selected for his new role, and we wish him all the best as he continues his career.
I would also like to add a personal note of appreciation, as Jeff was instrumental in bringing me to American University. He not only co-chaired the provost search committee, but he hosted me in the most gracious way and showed me what a great place AU was and will continue to grow to be. I am indebted to him for his colleagueship and friendship. Congratulations again, Jeff, on the many things you have achieved here at AU—and please accept our heartfelt thanks for all of your great work.