Annenberg School gets a new name that invests in journalism

Recognizing the critically important role journalism plays in a democratic society and USC’s role as a leading institution for educating and training journalists, the University of Southern California Board of Trustees has voted to change the name of the USC Annenberg School for Communication to the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

This name change was announced today by USC President Steven B. Sample and USC Annenberg School Dean Ernest J. Wilson III.

“Our trustee and dear friend Wallis Annenberg has been advocating for this name change as more reflective of the school's interdisciplinary strengths,” Sample said, “and her arguments were convincing to me and the provost, as well as to the full Board.

“The change emphasizes the centrality of both the School of Communication and the School of Journalism in the overall mission of the USC Annenberg School. It also recognizes the legacy of Ambassador Walter Annenberg, whose early career was centered in journalism, and who recognized that both fields were necessary to the goal of a fully informed and empowered citizenry.”

Wilson and the Annenberg School faculty view the school’s new name as a way not only to provide clarity for their core education mission but also to highlight the “high-velocity momentum” occurring within the school and in the media world.

“We recognize the critical importance of educating and training journalists in the support of a democratic society, and we are investing in new teaching programs as well as expanding the ranks of our faculty with expertise in digital media,” said Wilson.

“Our new name, and particularly the strong support of our primary champion, Wallis Annenberg, both underscores our commitment to journalism and also makes more explicit that we are a ‘full-service school’ offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in communication, journalism and public relations, as well as programs for mid-career professionals. We are continuing to integrate the best of the journalistic tradition with contributions from the fields of communication, media studies and strategic public relations.

“Having all these comprehensive resources together under one roof and networked within this great university and around the world provides a unique perspective on the media world.”

Wilson also acknowledged the pressures on journalism, particularly during the past year.

“The ‘Fourth Estate’ has been under siege,” he said. “As one of the premier educational institutions in the United States to offer comprehensive communication, journalism and public relations programs, it is incumbent upon us to step up and publicly support the future of the profession.”

Organizationally, there will be no change in the governance of the school, Wilson said. The two Annenberg component schools continue to be led by the School of Communication Director Larry Gross and the School of Journalism Director Geneva Overholser. “However,” he added, “this renaming demonstrates that both the university and the Annenberg School are making a major commitment to the role that information in the public interest plays in our modern democracy.”