In memoriam: Patricia Dean, 72

Patricia Dean, accomplished broadcast journalist, professor of professional practice and former associate director of USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism, died on Nov. 17 at the age of 72. A lifelong mentor to colleagues and students alike, Dean nurtured and inspired many throughout her career spanning more than four decades.

Dean died in Santa Fe, New Mexico, after battling cancer for several years.

Joining USC Annenberg as associate director of the School of Journalism in 2003, Dean helped oversee curricula and faculty affairs. In addition, she taught television news courses and was the co-director/news editor for USC Annenberg’s “News21” project, funded by the Carnegie Corporation and the Knight Foundation. In 2011, Dean retired and moved to Santa Fe.

“Pat was a dedicated educator and a special person who understood the importance of removing obstacles to help support students and colleagues,” said Gordon Stables, director of the School of Journalism. “As we mourn her passing, her colleagues and former students are sharing stories of her wisdom, kindness and commitment to others. We are truly fortunate that so many Trojans had the opportunity to learn from her. Her influence at USC Annenberg is still very much felt today.”

Prior to joining USC Annenberg, Dean taught at Northwestern University for 16 years. There, she served as chair of the Broadcast News sequence and taught television news writing, reporting, producing and ethics. Northwestern honored Dean in 1999 with its Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award.

Dean was also a founding member of the Consortium for Local Television Surveys. The research team, including former professional broadcast journalists teaching at universities throughout the country, studied the reporting of public policy issues on local television news programs.

Michael Parks, professor of journalism and director of the School of Journalism from 2003 to 2008, remembers working with Geoffrey Cowan, University Professor and former USC Annenberg dean, to recruit Dean from Northwestern. Once Dean was on board, Parks fondly recalls how she greeted him each day.

“‘Well, here are today’s issues,’ she would say, meaning any array of problems. And as she left in the afternoon she would come in and tell me how we, meaning she, had very nicely resolved them,” Parks said. “Pat cheered faculty members, fed deans M&Ms and soothed worried students. She took great pride in the way that Annenberg grew bigger, stronger and better.”

Before joining Northwestern, Dean spent two decades as a broadcast journalist in Chicago, leading news teams at WMAQ (NBC), WLS (ABC) and WBBM (CBS). Her work was honored with numerous awards including the George Foster Peabody Award, the Chicago Television Academy Emmy Award and the National Press Club Award for “The Best Consumer Journalism.”

“Pat mentored USC faculty, staff and students, and advised colleagues, friends and alumni long after she left Southern California,” said Serena Cha, Dean’s former colleague and executive director of USC Annenberg’s Media Center until 2016. “She was generous with her time and wisdom and often connected USC alumni with Northwestern alumni to the benefit of both. Pat’s devotion to truth and her clear thinking remain in the minds and hearts of students who are now leaders in the world of journalism.”

Dean was a member of the Radio Television News Directors Association, the National Association of Television Arts & Sciences, the Association for Women Journalists, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the International Communication Association, and the Academy of Political Science.

A native of Chicago, Dean earned a master’s degree in communication studies from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Iowa State University.

In 2006, the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University recognized Dean with the Schwartz Award, the university’s highest honor for distinguished service to journalism and mass communication.

Information regarding memorial services is forthcoming.