COLUMBIA — With an office containing a concrete statue of Uga, the University of Georgia's bulldog mascot, and a framed picture of Georgia's Sanford Stadium circa 1929, it's not hard to tell Charles Davis is a "Dawgs" fan.
"I'm a Georgia boy through and through and through and through," said Davis, an MU journalism professor and facilitator of Mizzou Advantage's Media of the Future initiative.
Davis, 49, will return to Athens, Ga., to become the dean of the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Jere Morehead, Georgia senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, announced Monday. He will begin the position July 1.
Davis grew up about five miles from Georgia's campus and graduated from Clarke Central High School in 1982. After receiving a bachelor's degree in criminology from North Georgia College and State University, he returned to Athens, where he worked for the Athens Banner-Herald and received his master's degree in journalism from Georgia in 1992.
As dean, Davis first plans to look at external development and affairs and create more partnerships with local news media and other journalism and mass communications entities, he said. He will also begin planning Grady's centennial, which will occur in 2015.
"(The centennial)'s happy news, but it's something we've got to get right and capitalize upon," he said.
Davis said he thinks journalism and mass communication schools need to balance emerging technology with solid foundations in areas including writing, verifying facts and making sure the right message is being sent to the right audience. He thinks students in these schools should learn to be agile.
"What students are acquiring in (journalism) school are tangible skill sets that plug into workplaces: to think, move and write fast and maintain professional standards and do well," he said.
Davis, his wife, Julie, and their two children — 14-year-old Mamie and MU freshman Charlie — will be reunited with family in Athens. Davis' mother, father and older sister live there, and his younger sister might be moving back soon, he said.
"I'll get to have my 50th (birthday) in Athens and have a lot of my friends and family there," he said.
The family moved to Columbia 14 years ago. "This is home, and Athens is home, and they always will be," Davis said.
Davis' family is active in the Missouri United Methodist Church. Davis also works with Columbia Second Chance and has coached his children's sports teams.
At MU, Davis has been a mentor and leader in his work with undergraduate students and the Society of Professional Journalists, associate professor of journalism Earnest Perry said.
Davis also is the former executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, which is housed in the Reynolds Journalism Institute.
"He's going to be missed," Perry said. "He's going to be an outstanding dean. He's going to bring vision and a new sense of what the program can be."
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