School of Journalism director Glenn Frankel to leave UT after 2013-2014 academic year


Shelby Tauber

Glenn Frankel, pictured here with his new book, will leave UT after the 2013-2014 academic year.

Bobby Blanchard

After four years as the director of the School of Journalism, Glenn Frankel will retire from his position and become a full-time author.

In an email to his colleagues Thursday evening, Frankel announced he will be leaving UT after the 2013-14 academic school year. In his last year, Frankel said he will focus on transforming the curriculum in the journalism master program and focus on helping a new person transition into his position. 

Frankel said he will return home to Arlington, Va. and write books full-time, which he says is "a cherished dream."

He said the new journalism director needs to be able to demonstrate how journalism is a value to UT as a whole. Frankel said the new director also needs to be concerned with the fate of The Daily Texan, which almost cut its printing from five to four times a week this past semester due to budget concerns. Frankel said the Texan must remain as independent and student-run as possible.

"This is a time where journalism needs that kind of support, and all of our former assumptions are up for grabs. We need to reassert and reestablish the critical importance of journalism in a democratic society," Frankel said in an interview with The Daily Texan. "And that's part of the job for the School of Journalism."

Frankel, a former Washington Post editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, was hired as the director of the School of Journalism in 2010. Looking back at the past three years, Frankel said the opening of the new journalism building, the Belo Center for New Media and the launching of the new journalism curriculum were some of his high points of his career as journalism director. 

In the 2012 fall semester, the journalism school released a new curriculum aimed to better train students to become multimedia journalists and have multiple skills. It was the first time the undergraduate curriculum had been critically changed in two decades, Frankel said.

"Our students are getting digital tools from the day they come to the school while still getting basic journalistic sensibility that goes with it," Frankel said. "There are still bugs to iron out and things to get done, but its an enormous achievement."

The new curriculum requires students to conduct a professional internship, which Frankel says has strengthened relations between the School of Journalism and professional news organizations such as the Dallas Morning News. The Morning News recently ran six stories about race in school classrooms by UT students writing for Reporting Texas, a journalism class at the University. 

Despite these gains, Frankel said the school needs to form even better and stronger relationships with these news organizations.

"There is an enormous opportunity here to be a spokesman and a champion of good journalism and the value of good journalism," Frankel said.

Frankel said he was convinced now was a good time to retire after receiving positive critical response on his most recent book. "The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend," was released in February.

"I want to be a full-time book writer. I've written three and I've got several more in mind," Frankel said. "It just seems to me the success of my newest book has given me the opportunity to do that."