Dean Mills, dean of the MU School of Journalism, will take a year off to concentrate on planning for the opening of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.
MU Provost Brian Foster announced Friday that beginning June 4, Mills will “step back” from the dean’s job for a year to oversee development and program planning for the institute. Mills is expected to return to full-time duty in June 2008, as the journalism school gears up for a celebration of its centennial and the institute’s opening.
Esther Thorson, associate dean for graduate studies and research in the journalism school, has agreed to become acting dean in Mills’ absence.
“He’ll be focusing on the Reynolds Journalism Institute, particularly on the Reynolds Fellow Program, and will be working with Suzette Heiman, the (public relations) director, in collaborating on the centennial celebration for the J-School,” Thorson said.
The Reynolds Institute was funded by a $31 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation in February 2004, the largest private donation to MU. The goal of the institute is to engage media professionals, scholars and citizens in programs aimed at improving the practice and understanding of journalism in democratic societies. With a focus on innovation and problem-solving, the institute will comprise the renovated Sociology Building, a major section of Walter Williams Hall and a new building that is in the process of being completed, according to the institute’s Web site.
The institute will include a technology and research center, a journalism futures laboratory, public areas, a journalism library, administrative offices and space for fellows and graduate studies programs and seminars.