Archive for Friday, March 7, 2008

KU expected to name new Knight Chair professor

March 7, 2008

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Several years ago, Kansas University's School of Journalism asked Pam Fine if she'd be interested in its vacant Knight Chair on the Press, Leadership and Community.

At the time she passed, saying she wasn't ready to leave the newsroom quite yet. When the opportunity presented itself a second time, she couldn't say no. Fine, managing editor of the Indianapolis Star, is expected to be named KU's next Knight Chair sometime in the next few weeks.

"It's a marvelous opportunity to combine my (journalism) experience with my interest in teaching and doing some scholarly work and projects," Fine said. "The Knight chair is a great platform to be creative both in the classroom and outside."

The Knight chairs are 24 endowed, tenured professorships that exist at 22 universities across the United States, dedicated to promoting the study and advancement of journalism. The position is funded in part by the John S. and James L. Knight foundation. KU's was among the first three chairs established in 1990.

Fine is a graduate of the University of Florida and expects to soon complete a master's degree from the University of Missouri. Her time working toward a master's degree, primarily online, led her toward academic life, Fine said.

"But I haven't been planning to make the move so soon," she said. "But offers like this don't come along every day."

Fine said she had two particular interests that she expected would initially form the bedrock of her research: how to build communities through news and the variety of news products that are now created, as well as how newsroom leaders are adapting to changes in the industry.

She hopes to eventually teach a class that will do a little bit of "crystal ball" work, looking at the future of journalism.

Fine replaces Peggy Kuhr, who left KU to become the dean of the University of Montana's School of Journalism.

"(Kuhr) said it was a marvelous job and one she hated to leave, and that she would encourage anyone who was interested in teaching to look hard at this job," Fine said.

Kuhr said she met Fine when they both worked on The Associated Press Managing Editors board of directors.

"I think she's going to be great for KU, and she'll be wonderful for the world of journalism," Kuhr said. "I think people will really enjoy her. She has a lot of creativity."

The school wouldn't officially confirm Fine's appointment until paperwork was completed; however, an announcement is expected soon.

Fine will stay at the Star through April 4 and then begin a gradual move to Lawrence, starting with guest lectures this summer and meeting with local editors. She will teach her first class next fall.

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