Journalism chair to step down at semester's end

by Evan Sporer / Beacon Staff • April 18, 2012

Cher gup2
Ted Gup, the chair of the journalism department, will step down at the end of the semester.
Cherylynn Tsushima/ Beacon Archive
Ted Gup, the chair of the journalism department, will step down at the end of the semester.
Cherylynn Tsushima/ Beacon Archive

Ted Gup, who has served as the chair of the journalism department since 2009, will step down at the end of this semester and go on sabbatical for one year to serve as a fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Gup is the third top administrator from the school of communication in the last two weeks to announce he will be leaving at the year’s end. Communication Studies Chair Richard West and Janis Andersen, the school’s dean, announced their resignations earlier this month.

“It’s a one-year fellowship for an investigative reporter,” said Gup, who said he is one of several fellows, in what he said was a competitive application process.

In an email sent to journalism faculty obtained by the Beacon, Gup disclosed his decision to come back to a teaching position when the fellowship concludes.

“I will not be returning as chair but rather as a member of the faculty, which frankly, suits me just fine since that has always been where my allegiance lies,” he wrote in the email.

Andersen—who oversees the journalism, communication studies, marketing communication, and communication sciences and disorders departments—said she was excited for the opportunity presented for Gup.

“I am very happy for Ted and the interesting opportunity he has in front on him,” said Andersen. “I believe that it will be outstanding for his professional growth and development and will be of value to Emerson when he returns and brings back that set of experiences.”

Gup cited the help of his colleagues during the department in the strides it has made the three years Gup has served as chair. 

“I think we’ve made great progress in shaping a curriculum that reflects the present and the future of journalism, and the product we emerged with is a truly collaborative effort from faculty,” Gup said.

In 2009, when Gup began as department chair, it marked the worst financial year for newspapers in decades, as dozens of dailies folded, went bankrupt, or slashed staff, according to the Newspaper Association of America. 

Under Gup, the journalism department implemented changes to adapt to a fast-evolving industry, streamlining the journalism major by eliminating the print and multimedia and broadcast distinctions. 

Gup has also brought journalists such as Twitter guru Andy Carvin, National Public Radio’s senior product manager for online communities who famously curated tweets from the Arab Spring, to speak to students. 

Additionally, Gup hired Cindy Rodriguez, a social media savvy journalist, to help bring the department’s curriculum and direction into the future. He said professors Doug Struck and Paul Niwa were instrumental in helping the department to grow under his time as chair. 

Following the sudden death of his 21-year-old son earlier this year, Gup said the year of sabbatical will provide him with an opportunity to refresh himself. 

“Frankly, after losing my son six months ago, I felt as though my abilities to adequately discharge the responsibilities of chair were diminished,” Gup said. “My department deserves someone’s full attention.”

Though Struck filled in as an interim chair while Gup took time off to grieve, the outgoing chair said Struck, a fellow alumnus from The Washington Post, would not be considered as a replacement because he is not a tenured professor.

Gup said he hopes his successor continues to improve the department and adapt to the changes in the journalism industry. 

“I’m sure that whoever is the next chair will bring to birth a new graduate curriculum,” Gup said. 

 “I would imagine that there will be a renewed emphasis on global journalism and global perspectives on journalism.” 

Katie Prisco-Buxbaum, Beacon Staff, contributed to this report.