The University of North Texas recently appointed M. Jean Keller as interim dean of the Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism while a committee continues to search for a permanent dean.
Keller will replace Roy Busby, regents professor of journalism, who has served as interim dean since June 2011. He will return to his role as professor and associate dean of the school’s graduate program.
Busby took over for Mitch Land, who was the founding dean of the school. Land left UNT for a deanship at Regent University in Virginia.
A committee led by Martin Halbert, dean of the UNT libraries, began its search in December.
Halbert said the committee is continuing its search and has had good candidates apply, but it’s been a competitive year with several universities looking for journalism deans.
“We pursued several candidates, but ultimately none of the candidates panned out,” he said.
Halbert said the committee hopes to find someone soon.
“We want the right person,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons we’ve taken our time on it.”
Keller, who is a professor of kinesiology, health promotion and recreation, was chosen to replace Busby because of her previous experience as a dean, Halbert said. Keller served as dean of the College of Education from 1997 to 2008, although in 2006, she received a vote of “no confidence” from the faculty.
Warren Burggren, UNT provost and vice president for academic affairs, said he’s not concerned that Keller’s background is not in journalism.
“We’re less concerned in the short-term about the content knowledge,” he said.
The important aspect is she knows the administrative ropes, Burggren said.
He said the reason a new dean hasn’t been hired isn’t related to the hiring freeze UNT announced before the semester started.
“When it comes to the leadership, we have to make sure we have the top people in place,” Burggren said.
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .