UC Berkeley Names Neil Henry as J-School Dean

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday May 08, 2009 - 06:31:00 PM
Neil Henry.
Neil Henry.

UC Berkeley’s search for a dean for its Graduate School of Journalism came to an end Thursday when it selected interim Dean Neil Henry for the position. 

The university’s last two attempts to fill the position proved futile, with the most recent one ending when all three finalists dropped out. 

Henry had not applied for the position, which campus officials said was a five-year appointment. 

An award-winning journalist, author and professor, Henry has filled in as dean J-school since Orville Schell left two years ago. 

A graduate of Princeton University, Henry earned a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 1978. He has more than 16 years of experience as a metro, national and foreign correspondent for the Washington Post and was a staff writer for Newsweek magazine before joining the Berkeley faculty in 1993. 

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer praised Henry’s “competence, dedication and skill,” during the announcement, which he said had been evident by the leadership Henry had portrayed since 2007 

“We are convinced more than ever that the finest possible dean for the Graduate School of Journalism, at this time and going forward, is the person who has led it through these past two years with such class and devotion,” he said. “These are incredibly challenging but exciting times in journalism filled with possibility. Berkeley is determined to remain a world leader in educating the new generation while also envisioning the future of this most important calling.” 

Henry launched the first-ever collaboration between a journalism school and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation during his tenure as interim dean and has helped to raise more than $5 million for new projects in the past. 

A former John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, Henry, 55, is still involved in reporting, following developments in Darfur, former baseball player Barry Bonds and the portrayal of race in the news. 

He is married to Letitia Lawson, a senior lecturer in political science at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. The couple have one daughter.