Andersen steps down as dean

by Katie Prisco-Buxbaum / Beacon Staff • April 19, 2012

Andersen verrill
Dean Janis Andersen
Dean Janis Andersen

Janis Andersen will resign as the dean of the school of communication after serving in the position for six years. 

She is the second top administrator from the department to resign this month. Richard West announced his resignation as chair of the communication studies department on April 3 to become a full-time faculty member. 

Anderson started as an interim dean in 2006 and was officially promoted to the position a year later. 

Andersen said being dean of a department is a five-year commitment, and she is not interested in serving another term because she wants to move back to her home in Southern California. 

During her time as dean, Andersen helped start several new initiatives in the school of communication including a health communication minor, the Washington, D.C. program, and Communication Week, a series of speakers and events celebrating communication.

In a mass email to the Emerson community last Friday, President M. Lee Pelton said Andersen recruited and hired faculty, strengthened alumni relationships, and created the Dean’s Advisory Council, that allowed the college to gain external connections that can lead to long-term growth. 

“I am enormously grateful to Janis for her administrative leadership. During her tenure, the school of communication was strengthened in several important dimensions, including a stronger student academic profile and the development of a curriculum characterized by innovation and rigor,” said Pelton in the email. 

In a phone interview with the Beacon, Pelton said that Andersen had began discussing the possibility of her resignation earlier this semester. 

“I love this place. I love the people. I love the niche Emerson is attempting to put its footprint in,” said Andersen. “I am sad to be leaving, but I am also happy to be leaving.”

Prior to working at Emerson, Andersen had been a tenured professor at San Diego State University and served as a graduate dean.

Pelton said that he will consult the faculty, department chairs, and the school of communication to select an interim dean this summer. 

Andersen said she hopes her successor will continue working on projects that started during her administration, such as creating a health communication minor and taking the necessary steps to make Emerson the top communication school in the nation.

“There is no one at Emerson who has brought more prestige to the study and teaching of communication than Jan Andersen,” said West in an email to the Beacon. “Our school is a nationally recognized leader in Communication because of Jan’s relentless energy, foresight, and tenacity.”

Ted Gup, chair of the Journalism department, said he has enjoyed working with Anderson.

“It was an honor to work with and for Dean Andersen. She is a consummate professional without ever compromising her humanity or integrity,” said Gup. “She cares about people—faculty, students and staff—and tirelessly worked to help Emerson realize its potential.”