When Penn President Amy Gutmann offered John Jackson the position of dean of the Annenberg School for Communication last year in 2018, he said he felt the "stars aligned."
Jackson, who served as dean of Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice before taking on the new role, took office Jan. 1, 2019. Communication professor Michael Carpini had held the position for more than 15 years, since 2003.
Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett announced Jackson’s appointment on Feb. 6, 2018 after a search committee to fill the position was formed in October 2017. Jackson has worked at Penn for more than 12 years, serving as dean of SP2 since 2014. He is also the Richard Perry University Professor, as well as a Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with appointments in Annenberg and the College of Arts and Sciences.
One of his goals, Jackson said, is to collaborate with SP2 to “take advantage of the sparks that fly when social policy and communication connect."
Jackson added that he is assuming the role at a critical moment for Annenberg because of the nation's widespread political and social polarization, adding that the school was designed to help answer questions about the link between a changing media and political landscape.
"So [the media] is both ubiquitous but also almost universally demonized in some ways,” Jackson said. “How do we really get past all of the histrionics about how mass media landscape is changing and really try to figure out what we can learn about what these new technologies provide [and] how it transforms our sense of social community?”
“The discussion should be organized not around people's ideologies or their impressions but around data and the facts,” Jackson said.
Carpini said he "could not be more excited" for Jackson's tenure given his leadership and ideas for the school.
"I think he is the ideal choice for the school given how much he knows about [Penn]," Carpini said.