By Darin Watkins, Edward R. Murrow College of Communication
PULLMAN, Wash. – The founding dean of The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, Lawrence Pintak, announced today that he will step down at the end of the semester to begin a year of research and reporting about Islam and the U.S. presidential election.
Pintak said that the death of Washington State University President Elson S. Floyd – who created the college and was a strong supporter – the resulting presidential transition and shifting university priorities made this a logical time for a leadership change at the college.
“I was hired by Dr. Floyd and then-Provost Warwick Bayly to expand Murrow, modernize the curriculum and bring the college to national prominence,” Pintak said in a statement to faculty and staff. “Almost seven years later, I am pleased to say we have accomplished those goals.”
“Dean Pintak has elevated Murrow onto the national stage in a way never previously achieved,” said Peter Bhatia, a multi-Pulitzer Prize winner, top editor at the Cincinnati Enquirer and former president of the accrediting body for journalism schools. “The college is now very much a part of the national conversation on journalism education, thanks to him.”
Pintak, a former CBS News correspondent who holds a Ph.D. in Islamic studies, plans to write a book about Islam and the U.S. presidential election, a followup to his earlier books on U.S.-Muslim world relations published after 9/11 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
“To someone in my field, (presidential candidate Donald) Trump and the rise of ISIS represent a ‘perfect storm’ that is likely to shape American policy toward the Muslim world, and the 3 million Muslim Americans, for decades to come,” he said.
Associate Dean Bruce Pinkleton will become interim dean after Pintak steps down in May. In the additional role of acting dean, Pinkleton will assume day-to-day decision-making duties while Pintak is available to provide advice and insight. And Pinkleton will represent the college in university-level discussions being led by Interim President Daniel Bernardo.
“Many of the developments in the coming months will impact the college for years to come,” Pintak said. “They involve restructuring of budgets, the approach to future hiring and shifting programmatic priorities. It is only appropriate for the future leadership of the college to make these decisions.”
Pintak will continue to focus on Murrow’s relations with donors, alumni and the industries it serves through the end of his term.
The Murrow College recently was ranked sixth in a national survey to name the top journalism schools in the country conducted by TV Week/NewsPro and the Radio-TV Digital News Directors Association. Its new online MA degree was named the top online strategic communication degree in the country by Non-Profit College.com. And the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship (CIOS) ranked Murrow faculty as No. 1 in three areas of communications research and in the top 10 in 29 other areas.
During Pintak’s seven-year tenure as dean, the size of the faculty roughly doubled; student enrollment increased by 50 percent; undergraduate and graduate degrees were revamped; faculty research output doubled; research grants quadrupled; the college extended its degree offerings to WSU’s Everett, Vancouver and Global (online) campuses; and a variety of new initiatives were launched, including a donor-funded Backpack Journalism program that has sent students to Latin America and Asia.
The college is generating $1.75 million in new revenues annually from its expanded programs and exceeded its $43 million fundraising goal as part of WSU’s Campaign for Washington State.
Murrow was elevated from the status of school within the then-College of Liberal Arts to that of a college, the largest academic unit at WSU, in the fall of 2008. Pintak, who had been director of the only graduate journalism program in the Arab world, was hired as founding dean after an international search.
“Dr. Floyd not only created Murrow College, he frequently referred to Murrow as a ‘crown jewel’ of WSU and remained an important supporter of our model of communication education that marries leading industry professionals and top researchers,” Pintak told faculty and staff. “Maintaining that balance will be our biggest challenge in the future.
“It has been an exciting seven years,” he added, “and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to help Murrow – and WSU – move into a new era.”
Pintak’s previous books include Islam for Journalists (2014); The New Arab Journalist (2011); Reflections in a Bloodshot Lens: America, Islam & the War of Ideas (2006); Seeds of Hate: How America’s Flawed Middle East Policy Ignited the Jihad (2003); and Beirut Outtakes (1988).
Darin Watkins, WSU Murrow College communications, 509-595-2012, firstname.lastname@example.org