College of Communication and Information researcher and professor, Jennifer M. Proffitt, Ph.D., has assumed the role of Director of the School of Communication beginning January 2018.
Proffitt is replacing Gary Heald, Ph.D., Theodore Clevenger Professor Emeritus, who has served as Director since July 2014 after being a Florida State faculty member for nearly 34 years. Heald is back to teaching at the school with interests in research methods, health communication, and international development communication.
“Dr. Heald led the school in such a strong and positive direction, and as a result has given Jennifer a great opportunity to build on a strong foundation,” Larry Dennis, Ph.D., dean of the College of Communication and Information, said. “Dr. Proffitt has the full confidence of myself and the faculty of the School of Communication. We know she is going to do a great job leading us in the years to come.”
After receiving her Ph.D. in Mass Communication from Pennsylvania State University in 2005, Proffitt began teaching at Florida State. When asked about her thirteen years as a professor, she said, “It has been a wonderful experience. I have had the opportunity to teach courses in my areas of expertise—political economy, regulation and policy, and ethics—and work on research projects with dedicated and conscientious graduate and undergraduate students. I have also had numerous opportunities to contribute the School, the College, the University, and higher education in general through my service work, including with the United Faculty of Florida (UFF). I also feel fortunate to work with my colleagues; they are the best in the academy and we share the same goals: to make the world a better place and to teach the next generation to be informed, active citizens.”
Proffitt is looking forward to supporting her colleagues in her new position as Director, where she will oversee activities of the school including the management of curricula and various programming. “I am excited to be able to find ways to support my colleagues in the endeavors they find important to do for the betterment of the School, College, University, the field, and society as a whole. This may be through innovative teaching strategies, research collaborations, interdisciplinary teaching and research opportunities, grants to support their research and to support graduate students, and service opportunities. One of my goals is to recognize, celebrate, and nurture faculty and student contributions and achievements.”
Proffitt has served in a variety of roles that will help to reach her goals as Director of the School of Communication. In addition to her experience as a professor and researcher, she served as the president of the UFF-FSU chapter from 2013 to 2015 and as the statewide UFF president from 2015 to 2017. Representing more than 20,000 faulty and graduate assistants in the Sunshine State, Proffitt has advocated for higher education funding and developed a better understanding of the ways in which higher education policy works in Florida.