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Home » Hobbs Named Founding Director of URI Harrington School of Communication and Media
Hobbs Named Founding Director of URI Harrington School of Communication and Media
Renee Hobbs has accepted a position as the Founding Director of the Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island, beginning January 1, 2012. The Media Education Lab continues its work with support from Lab Manager Jonathan Friesem. Watch this video to learn more about the new school:
KINGSTON, R.I. – October 11, 2011 – The University of Rhode Island has
appointed a national authority on media literacy education to head its
new Harrington School of Communication and Media. Renee Hobbs, a professor of communications in Temple University’s
Department of Broadcasting, Telecommunication and Mass Media, and School
of Communications and Theater, will begin her new duties at URI Jan. 1,
2012. She has been visiting the Kingston campus regularly to meet with
members of the Harrington School advisory board.
Hobbs is the first director of the Harrington School at URI, which
brings together departments and programs in journalism, film/media,
communication studies, public relations, writing and rhetoric and a
graduate program in library and information science.
The school was established in 2008 through a $5.5 million donation by
Richard J. Harrington, former president and chief executive officer of
Thomson/Reuters, and a 1973 College of Business Administration graduate
of URI, and his wife, Jean.
Winifred E. Brownell, dean of URI’s College of Arts Sciences, the
academic home of the Harrington School, said the University is delighted
to welcome an outstanding educator, researcher and innovator.
“Dr. Hobbs is going to establish the Harrington School as a school of
national and international distinction,” Brownell said. “We will develop
strategic international links and partnerships because we are preparing
our students for careers in the state, nation and the world. Renee
Hobbs has the knowledge, the expertise and creative entrepreneurial
ideas to create a transformative model here at URI, across the nation
and throughout the world.”
Harrington said he is impressed with Hobbs’ breadth of experience in a
constantly changing arena. “Dr. Hobbs brings a comprehensive and
innovative approach to this position, which is critical in today’s world
because communication and information technologies are all about mind
boggling change. She is talking about building something here that will
have a great impact at URI and society as a whole.”
Hobbs is a leading authority on media literacy education in the United
States. She established the Harvard Institute on Media Education at the
Harvard Graduate School of Education, the first national program of
teacher professional development in media literacy in the United States.
In Philadelphia, Hobbs developed Powerful Voices for Kids, a
university-school partnership that offers a comprehensive digital and
media literacy program for children and young people in kindergarten
through high school.
Hobbs said she was attracted to URI because it represents a chance to
start a new school of communications that builds on the cornerstones of
journalism, communication studies, public relations and film/media and
brings in writing and rhetoric and library sciences.
“This approach changes the whole ballgame for students who want to be
communicators in the 21st century,” Hobbs said. “Communication schools
can no longer be confined to narrow vocational disciplines if they want
to serve students well. We are going to create a new vision that means
thinking about students as global communicators and citizens in a
She emphasized that verbal and written expression will remain at the heart of the Harrington School.
“But because of the generosity of Dick Harrington, students will be
able to strengthen their abilities to use digital and social media
tools, including video production and gaming. By including library
science in our school, students gain the ability to recognize what is
reliable, what are the good sources. Anyone can type in keywords on
Google, but there are a wide range of more sophisticated tools that
students need to be able to use well.”
Hobbs has also published extensively, with her latest book, Digital and
Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom, offering portraits of
how secondary educators integrate critical thinking and communication
skills across the curriculum. She is also the co-editor of the Journal
for Media Literacy Education, an open-access, peer-reviewed journal.
Hobbs earned her doctor of education degree in human development from
the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a master of arts in
communication from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor of arts in
English literature and film/video studies from the University of