Campus, News

College of Communication dean to step down in 2019

Thomas Fielder, Dean of Boston University’s College of Communication, will step down in Spring 2019. PHOTO COURTESY THOMAS FIEDLER.

Boston University College of Communication Dean Thomas Fiedler plans to step down at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year.

After earning a master’s degree in journalism at BU, Fiedler worked at the Miami Herald for more than 30 years, serving as executive editor from 2001 to 2007. He was appointed to the BU Board of Overseers in 2006 and became the dean of COM in 2008.

Fiedler plans to step down on June 30, 2019. He said he chose to step down because the timing seems right, as 2018-2019 marks the final year of the Campaign for BU fundraising initiative and the beginning of a new comprehensive strategic plan for the university.

Fiedler has contributed much to BU during his time as dean, University Provost Jean Morrison said, including improving COM’s course offerings, overseeing a redesign of the introductory CO 101 course and establishing endowed professorships.

“He’s been a steady hand at the leadership of the college over the last couple years,” Morrison said.

Rapid technological development and the rise of social media in particular have dramatically changed the very nature of communication education and professions during Fiedler’s tenure, the dean said.

“To have seen social media develop as quickly as it has and then to exert such a significant influence on the communication professions, I think has truly been revolutionary,” Fiedler said.

Fiedler has overseen many of COM’s adaptations to new technological advancements, including the opening of the social media-focused Zimmerman Family Social Activation Center, the provision of free digital access to the New York Times for COM students and the upcoming institution of a Bring Your Own Device policy to replace the COM computer labs.

Other accomplishments during Fiedler’s tenure have included the creation of the division of media studies and the media ventures program, BU President Robert Brown wrote in an email.

“He has worked tirelessly to enhance the quality of the faculty and the College’s programs for its students,” Brown wrote. “… He leaves the college in excellent shape for its next leader.”

Fiedler said he has aimed to bring respect to BU academically during his tenure.

“I think what I would hope to have done is built on Boston University’s reputation as a world-class university,” Fiedler said. “I think we have made progress on that direction in the past ten years.”

Fiedler and his wife are looking forward to retirement, the dean said.

“We’re eager to have the freedom that retirement will allow, and we’re very fortunate to be in a situation where we have the resources to be able to do that,” Fiedler said. “We have children and grandchildren and all of those things that I think people look forward to when they have that opportunity.”

The search for a new COM dean is already underway, Morrison said.

COM and the BU Faculty Council are currently in the process of choosing representatives for the dean search advisory committee, for which Morrison will choose the chair. The committee will start a global candidate search in August, with the goal of choosing a candidate by early 2019.

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