Campus, News

Scientific American Editor-in-Chief will be new dean of COM

On Thursday, June 6, Boston University announced that Mariette DiChristina will be the next dean of the College of Communication. DiChristina will take over from the current dean, Thomas Fielder, on August 15.

DiChristina is the Editor-In-Chief of Scientific American and is the first woman to lead the magazine. She is also a graduate of BU and she received a received a bachelor’s degree in Journalism in 1986.

University Provost Jean Morrison said she and BU President Robert Brown chose DiChristina out of the three nominees for the position because her leadership qualities stood out among the other candidates.

“President Brown and I reviewed the people that had been nominated and selected Mariette,” Morrison said. “We found she brought the qualities we were looking for. She is known to be an outstanding leader and manager.”

DiChristina’s role at Scientific American significantly influenced the committee’s decision to choose her, Morrison said.

“She’s a world class science journalist, and in her leadership role at Scientific American, she has managed large global teams,” Morrision said. “She transitioned Scientific American from a purely print publication to a digital format. So she’ll bring all of those change-management skills and leadership and sort-of emerging media to the job.”

Dustin Supa, the senior associate dean of COM, wrote in an email that an organization like Scientific American has a lot in common with the COM.

“Both are dedicated to acquiring and disseminating knowledge, though obviously the delivery is quite different,” Supa wrote. “Dean DiChristina’s experience at Scientific American in assessing information, seeking new knowledge, and ultimately bringing those ideas to the public will be similar to her role as the Dean of the College. I am looking forward to working with her.”

The process for choosing a new dean began last June, when Fielder announced he would be stepping down. By October, a Search Advisory Committee had been formed to do a national search for the new dean. The Committee then nominated three candidates and presented them to Brown and Morrison to make the final decision.

“We were looking for someone with the capacity to lead this College of Communication,” Morrison said. “And what the leadership entails is thinking about the intellectual and academic efforts that need to be at the front lines of the disciplines that comprise communication.”

Morrison said the fact that DiChristina is an alum of COM was not a deciding factor in her selection, but that the connections are still good to have going forward.

“The primary factors that led to her selection were her accomplishments in journalism, she’s really a world class science journalist,” Morrison said. “It is great that she has connections to BU, that she herself graduated from BU and one of her kids recently graduated from BU, so those are good connections, but that doesn’t get you the job.”

Morrison said BU is excited to have DiChristina as the new dean of COM.

“We’re thrilled that she’s accepted the role and we really look forward to her leadership,” Morrison said. “I think she’s going to do beautifully.”

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