UI J-school director finalist for position in North Carolina

BY ALLIE WRIGHT | APRIL 26, 2011 7:20 AM

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David Perlmutter may soon leave the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication after fewer than two years as its director.

Perlmutter, who began as head of the UI journalism school on June 30, 2009, is one of three finalists for the position of dean at the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Perlmutter said he is happy at the UI and is fond of the journalism school's faculty, but he is exploring the possibility of leaving for a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity at a top-rated university.

"You can't help but at least consider the possibility," he said.

Perlmutter, a researcher in political communication, gave a presentation at a forum Monday in Chapel Hill, N.C. The remaining two finalists — directors Carol Pardun of the University of South Carolina and John Pavlik of Rutgers University — will have public discussions later this week and next week.

During the forum, Perlmutter said he has done a lot of fundraising work at the UI to compensate for less funding from the state.

"Maybe two-thirds of my job has to do with fundraising," he told the crowd in Chapel Hill, according to UNC's newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel. "I don't think any state will see a renewal in investment in higher education, so new sources must be found."

In addition to fundraising at the UI, Perlmutter also served as director while the journalism school went through an accreditation review. The re-accreditation team recommended the journalism master's program not be renewed.

Perlmutter said he wants to make sure the UI journalism faculty have the support they need to redesign the master's degree program to complete its reaccreditation process before leaving, if selected.

"I'm very proud of what we've accomplished together," he said. "I would hate to leave [the faculty]. Again, it's sort of a unique opportunity."

Permutter is the author of the "P&T Confidential" column in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and he has written several books on the topic of political communication.

Dulcie Straughan, a senior associate dean at the UNC School of Journalism, said this is a strength.

"I think he's done some good academic research, and he has a respect for that being a part of the school and the area of journalism," Straughan said.

She said UNC has been moving toward more adaptable and changing media, regardless of the form, and she would like the new dean to be willing to adapt to the changing media climate.

UI adjunct journalism instructor Roy Justis said he had not heard about the possibility of Perlmutter leaving and said his impression of the director was that he was an "innovator."

Perlmutter said UNC and the UI have certain things in common, such as budget issues and faculties that are very "forward-looking."

"My general opinion is schools of journalism and mass communication are like sharks," he said. "If they don't keep moving forward, they die. UNC understands that as much as the UI does."

DI reporter Ariana Witt contributedto this story.

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