New Social Policy & Practice dean announced


John Jackson, a PIK professor with primary appointments in Annenberg and the School of Arts and Science, will succeed Richard Gelles


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The University announced Wednesday that John Jackson, a professor with primary appointments in the Annenberg School for Communication and the School of Arts and Sciences, will become the next dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice.

Photo by Courtesy of University Communications


This afternoon, Penn named John Jackson the new dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice, effective July 1.

Jackson, the Richard Perry University professor at Penn and a senior advisor for diversity in the Office of the Provost, is a cultural anthropologist, author and documentary filmmaker. He will succeed Richard Gelles, who has served as the school's dean since 2001.

“John is a distinguished teacher, a renowned scholar, and a visionary leader whose work crosses traditional academic boundaries and involves community partners in understanding and confronting societal challenges around the nation and the world,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said in a statement. “He is the best person to advance the School of Social Policy & Practice toward its goal of becoming the leading center for interdisciplinary teaching and research on social innovation, impact, and justice.”

Jackson arrived at Penn in 2006 as the first Penn Integrates Knowledge professor. PIK is a program designed to recruit faculty members for appointments in two Penn schools and who focus on interdisciplinary research.

While Jackson's current primary appointments are in the Annenberg School of Communication and the School of Arts and Sciences, he holds a secondary appointment in SP2. He is also affiliated with the Graduate School of Education and the Penn Institute for Urban Research. Jackson has written and taught about the effects of mass media on urban life, racialization and media technology.

“I am so incredibly excited about this opportunity,” Jackson said in a statement, “and I look forward to working with the faculty, students, staff and alumni of this impressive and inspiring school as they continue to demonstrate the value of putting cutting-edge scholarship, research and theory in service to the public good.”

Jackson makes the second dean announced this year who has been involved in diversity efforts. Antonia Villarruel, who was appointed the next dean of the School of Nursing in late February, has served as the president of National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations and is the founder of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. The hires come after a group of senior faculty in the Africana Studies Department wrote a guest column in The Daily Pennsylvanian last January claiming Gutmann has "failed to show leadership in diversifying the highest levels of University administration."

Jackson graduated from Howard University in 1993 with a degree in communication as a University Merit Scholar. He then received his two masters' degrees and his Ph.D. with distinction in anthropology from Columbia University.

Before Penn, Jackson was a Junior Fellow in Harvard University’s Society of Fellows and a faculty member in Duke University’s Cultural Anthropology Department.

Jackson will become the second PIK professor appointed to a senior leadership position. Ezekiel Emmanual, a PIK professor with appointments in the Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School, is the vice provost for global initiatives.

Jackson is the third dean to be named this semester. In addition to Jackson and Villarruel, the University named Geoffrey Garrett the new dean of Wharton on Monday. The future dean for the Graduate School of Education has yet to be named, and the search for a new athletic director is still underway. In the coming months, the University will also begin the search for a new Law School dean, as current dean Michael Fitts will become president of Tulane University on July 1.

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