Is post being eliminated? UM journalism dean named special adviser to provost

Larry Abramson

Larry Abramson, dean of the University of Montana’s School of Journalism, will become a special adviser to the provost starting Monday.

The move was announced Friday amid speculation that the journalism dean’s position is being eliminated as part of the university’s ongoing reorganization.

In a written release, the university said Abramson will now provide new executive vice president and provost Jon Harbor with “guidance and assistance for cross-cutting university priorities in which he has key knowledge and experience – one of which will be in global and international opportunities.”

Denise Dowling, an associate professor and director of student services in the journalism school, will serve as interim dean. Dowling also served as interim dean from 2012 to 2014, prior to Abramson’s selection.

No mention was made of a search for Abramson’s successor in UM’s announcement.

Abramson was a highly regarded National Public Radio news correspondent before joining UM as dean of the School of Journalism in 2014.

In a written statement, Abramson expressed interest in his new role: “I look forward to serving the UM community in my new role as special adviser to the provost, specifically on topics such as diversity and inclusion. I’m confident that the staff and faculty of the J-school will continue their long-standing commitment to serving students, and that their dedication and experience will make this transition successful.”

During his four years as dean, Abramson expanded UM’s Montana Journalism Abroad program, which sent three groups of students overseas to Germany, Japan and Korea to produce original journalism about some of the challenges and opportunities those countries face.

The students’ work received widespread publication, including on the CityLab news website.

Abramson was also instrumental in establishing the Crown Project, a mentoring and scholarship program for graduate students studying the Crown of the Continent, as well as the launch of the Montana Media Lab.

“The UM community at large, and J-school students in particular, benefited from Abramson’s extensive network of journalism professionals, many of whom Abramson brought to campus for lectures and workshops,” Harbor said in Friday afternoon’s statement.

“Larry’s perspective and advice are valuable to me during my first year as UM provost,” Harbor said. “His knowledge and experience relating to free speech, diversity and inclusion, making the most of UM’s global and international opportunities and honors education, will help advance a number of our goals for UM.”