Wirth Named New Communication and Information Dean

KNOXVILLE –- The University of Tennessee has named Dr. Michael O. Wirth as the new dean of the College of Communication and Information.

“We conducted a nationwide search to find the best candidate to lead what we believe is one of the finest communication and information schools in the country,” UT Chancellor Loren Crabtree said. “Dr. Wirth’s outstanding experience will ensure the college continues to grow and prepare our students for the world.”

Wirth currently serves as director of the School of Communication and as professor and chair of the Department of Mass Communications and Journalism Studies at the University of Denver.

He begins his duties at UT Aug. 1.

As dean, Wirth will oversee the operations of the college, which includes the School of Advertising and Public Relations, the School of Communication Studies, the School of Information Sciences and the School of Journalism and Electronic Media.

Wirth began his career at the University of Denver in 1977 shortly after earning his doctorate in mass media from Michigan State University. He steadily rose in the ranks from assistant professor to his current position as director, to which he was promoted in 1994.

The new dean’s experience extends beyond the boundaries of the Denver campus. In 1997, he became the first guest professor from the U.S. to teach at the Renmin University of China School of Journalism in Beijing. Just four years later, in 2001, he earned the same honor at the Zhejiang University School of Journalism, in Hangzhou, China.

“Dr. Wirth’s groundbreaking international experience fits well with the university’s goal to educate students about various cultures,” Crabtree said.

Wirth also is a senior fellow of the Bob Magness Institute at The Cable Center and has been a Frank Stanton Fellow with the International Radio and Television Society Foundation. He has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Journal of Media Economics, Mass Communication & Society and The International Journal of Media Management. He has served as a consultant for Time Warner Cable, National Basketball Association, AT&T Broadband and Internet Services, DirecTV, Knight-Ridder Broadcasting, The Christian Science Monitor and Viacom Cable.

Wirth, who also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Denver School of Law, succeeds UT Department of Civil Engineering Head Dr. Gregory D. Reed as interim dean of the college.

“Dr. Reed must be commended for his leadership during the past year,” Crabtree said. “The university truly appreciates his service.”

Dr. Bob Rider of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences chaired the search committee.