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Sam Fulwood III Joins American University School of Communication as Dean

The prominent journalist, public policy analyst, and author currently serves as a Senior Fellow and Vice President of Race and Equity at the Center for American Progress.

After an extensive international search, American University has selected prominent journalist, public policy analyst, and author, Sam Fulwood III as the Dean of the School of Communication (SOC). Fulwood currently serves as a Senior Fellow and Vice President of Race and Equity at the Center for American Progress.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to lead American University’s School of Communication, especially at this historically critical moment when truth-telling journalism and fact-driven communication are under assault, yet greatly needed in our society,” said Fulwood. “I hope to support and promote the outstanding work that students, faculty and staff in our school and university are doing to protect and preserve democracy in our nation, as well as contribute all that I can to make an already prestigious school even more so.”

His nationally and internationally recognized work addresses key issues including media influences on American life; race relations; data-driven journalism; and the intersection of media, technology, and democracy, which are all priority areas of focus for SOC. He is the former director and founder of American Progress’s Leadership Institute, a program to assist with the advancement of people of color in public policy.

“I am thrilled that Sam Fulwood will be joining the American University community,” said Acting Provost Peter Starr. “We are extraordinarily fortunate to have such a celebrated journalist and leader take the helm at SOC."

This is an opportune moment for Fulwood to join SOC, as it has recently launched new bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, attracted record levels of external funding, celebrated new high-impact faculty work, opened the renovated Media Production Center, and expanded innovative programs in DEI.

Fulwood’s public policy work has promoted legislation to advance comprehensive immigration and criminal justice reforms, as well as advocacy for racial equity in housing, employment, and mass transit policies. Last year, he served as a faculty fellow at American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, where he co-directed the “Black Swing Voter Study,” a survey and focus-group report that predicted the important role that Black voters would play in key battleground states prior to the 2020 election.

During his time as a journalist, he was the metro columnist at Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer and a national correspondent in the Washington, D.C. bureau of the Los Angeles Times, where he contributed to the Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Earlier in his career, Fulwood held the positions of business editor and state political editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and worked as an assistant city editor, business reporter, editorial writer, and the Johannesburg, South Africa bureau correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. He began his reporting career at The Charlotte Observer, his hometown daily, where he was a police, sports, and business reporter.

Dean Fulwood replaces Dr. Laura DeNardis, who stepped in as interim dean for two years beginning in July 2019 and will return to the faculty.

Interim Dean DeNardis said, "What an exciting new chapter for the School of Communication as we welcome such a prominent journalist and public policy analyst, Dean Fulwood, to our community."