USC Annenberg Professor Michael Parks, the Pulitzer Prize-winning former Los Angeles Times editor who led the School of Journalism from 2001 to 2008, will return to the helm in mid-June as interim director.
Parks is a journalist and educator whose assignments have taken him around the globe, and whose coverage of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa earned him the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. From 1997-2000, Parks served as editor of the Los Angeles Times, a period during which the LAT garnered four additional Pulitzer Prizes.
“Michael Parks is a real star. His extraordinary wisdom and experience will be invaluable to our students, faculty and staff,” said USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III.
Construction is rolling forward on an 88,000-square-foot, five-floor building scheduled to open in Fall 2014 in the heart of USC’s main campus. Wallis Annenberg Hall will feature a 20,000-square-foot digitally converged newsroom, multipurpose broadcast studios, an open layout and spaces that reflect the school’s dedication to transparency, collaboration and experimentation.
Along with the new construction, USC Annenberg has launched a $150 million fundraising initiative, which will invest in the incoming generations of students and scholars exploring the digital future. The drive will pay for capital projects to enhance Wallis Annenberg Hall – labs, studios and technology – as well as student scholarships, fellowships, residencies, research centers and start-ups led by students and faculty. The initiative is part of the broader, multi-year, $6 billion Campaign for the University of Southern California.
“We have great students and a terrific faculty that is looking forward to taking full advantage of this wonderful new building and all the opportunities that it will provide in developing an even more innovative program for our students,” Parks said. “I’m proud to lead the USC Annenberg Journalism School as we move closer to this remarkable milestone.”
Parks joined the USC Annenberg faculty in fall 2000. In fall 2001, he became interim director of the School of Journalism. He was named director of the school in March 2002 and finished his term in June of 2008. From his first overseas assignment covering the war in Vietnam as The Baltimore Sun's Saigon correspondent, Parks has reported on major international news events from a variety of international cities, including Beijing, Moscow, Hong Kong, Johannesburg and Jerusalem.
As editor of the Los Angeles Times, Parks was responsible for news coverage and editorial page positions of the largest metropolitan newspaper in the United States. Under his direction, the Times grew an enhanced online news site, www.latimes.com.
At USC Annenberg, Parks has guided the creation and adoption of an innovative core curriculum that trains students to report stories for print, broadcast and new media. Under his direction, the school expanded its international reporting programs and its focus on developing expertise in covering diverse communities. The School of Journalism also deepened its commitment to mid-career training and professional development for journalists through the work of the Online Journalism Program, the USC Annenberg Getty Arts Journalism Fellowship program and the Strategic Public Relations Center.
Parks will be the interim replacement for Geneva Overholser, who is completing her five-year term as director in mid-June. The search will continue for a long-term director.
During her tenure, Overholser launched several key initiatives, including award-winning digital news site Neon Tommy, and civic engagement projects. The school strengthened its digital expertise, doubled its public relations faculty and added a total of 12 new faculty members to the school.
Under her direction, USC Annenberg strengthened the curriculum and news laboratories to give students a deeper practicum experience; partnerships with outside media organizations expanded dramatically, giving journalism and public relations students the opportunity to work alongside professionals in their fields and to build career experience as they pursue their degrees. USC Annenberg also won the 2012 national diversity award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) under Overholser’s leadership.