AU selects policy analyst and journalist as new SOC dean

Sam Fulwood III will take over in May

AU selects policy analyst and journalist as new SOC dean
Sam Fulwood III, a policy analyst and journalist, will take over as the dean of SOC in May 2021.

After three semesters with an interim dean, the School of Communication has chosen Sam Fulwood III as its dean beginning in May, according to a Monday email to students from Acting Provost and Chief Academic Officer Peter Starr. 

“Students are going to be at the forefront of managing the conversation that the public is going to have,” Fulwood said in an interview with The Eagle. “Those of us in the teaching profession have to equip students with the judgment and technical capabilities to be able to tell stories that are truthful, factual, and credible enough to ensure that the public can make decisions.”

Fulwood is a prominent journalist, public policy analyst and published author. He currently serves as a senior fellow and interim vice president of race and ethnicity at the Center for American Progress (CAP) and is the former director and founder of American Progress’s Leadership Institute, a program to assist with the advancement of people of color in public policy.

Journalism professor Jane Hall, who worked with Fulwood at the Los Angeles Times, said he made a large impact on the journalism field by covering race as a beat.

“[Fulwood] was early to write about it as an issue that was cross-cutting across different aspects of our society,” Hall said. “He’s a fine person and he really understands the role that our school and universities, in general, can play at this time.”

In 2020, Fulwood served as a faculty fellow at AU’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies where he conducted a study on Black voters in swing states prior to the 2020 election. He also contributed to the Los Angeles Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the 1992 riots in Los Angeles.

Laura DeNardis assumed the position of interim dean in July 2019, following the departure of former Dean Jeffrey Rutenbeck.

Starr told The Eagle that Fulwood will help SOC continue to adapt to changes within the professional realm.

“It is absolutely critical that we have the most informed public that we can and use all the tools at our disposal to bring the best information to our public,” Starr said. “Sam is very attuned to the changes in the field and open to taking the school in new directions.”

After nearly 30 years in journalism and 10 years at CAP, Fulwood plans to approach his deanship with a keen awareness of the current moment in American culture and politics. 

“I want to have a welcoming and embracing community that values diversity, that values difference, that doesn’t see it as a threat, and I want to model that behavior in the ways that I work with others on campus,” Fulwood said.

Fulwood will join AU on May 1, 2021, and assume his deanship on May 15, Starr wrote in the email. 

“I viewed my college experience as every day I was learning something different,” Fulwood said. “And if you approach it that way, that’s just a really grand way to go through life.”

ssolano@theeagleonline.com bjohansen@theeagleonline.com

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