On July 1, Charles Davis will drive his red and black pick-up truck back to Athens to stay. Davis was selected Monday as the next dean of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Davis is a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the facilitator of the Media of the Future Initiative.
“I believe that Charles Davis is exactly the right person to lead the Grady College at this critical time in the arena of information processing, communicating and assimilation,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “As an alumnus of the Grady College, he will bring a passion for excellence that will serve the college and the University well.”
Provost Jere Morehead said Davis’ experience made him the top candidate.
“The Grady College has a long history of innovation in mass communication research, education and outreach, and I am confident that Dr. Davis will build on this tradition,” Morehead said. “His experience fostering interdisciplinary collaborations and building partnerships with industry, private foundations and donors makes him particularly well-suited to lead the college.”
Davis said during his finalist presentation that he wants to ensure Grady prepares students for careers in their field. He plans to encourage faculty to collaborate with current employers to make sure students are learning the skills that will help them get jobs.
He places a focus on technical skills — he said he wants to create “digital hybrid athletes” that could do more than just write. Davis also wants to take advantage of opportunities in such fields as health communication, sports, global communication and mobile advertising.
He particularly wants to emphasize the global nature of the degrees within Grady. He wants to use his international connections to increase study abroad opportunities as well as outside support for graduate and doctoral students.
He also plans to initiate competitions among Grady students at least once a semester. Prizes, he said, will most likely be unique experiences.
Davis received a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications from UGA and his Ph.D. in mass communication with an emphasis in media law from the University of Florida.
At Mizzou, Davis served as professor and chair of the editorial department. His research focuses on media law and access to government information. He has co-authored three books and has published many journal articles and law reviews.
One of Davis’ former students, Peter Scantlebury, said this research is one of the important things Davis will bring to UGA.
“He’s done a lot of work on media law and freedom of information requests and sunshine law,” he said. “I think as journalists, I think that’s one thing that sometimes goes under-utilized. I think his work there will be great for Grady.”
Scantlebury said Davis took the time to get to know students as a professor at Mizzou. Scantlebury took his senior capstone course with Davis, who invited all of the students to his house for dinner.
“It was a pretty cool move on his part,” Scantlebury said. “Especially for deans, people with that kind of profile, students may be scared to approach him or worry that someone in his position might be too good for people. But he’s not that way at all. He’s the most outgoing person you can imagine, and he really makes the effort to make you feel at home.”
Scantlebury said Davis will fit right in at UGA.
“He’s a huge Georgia fan. It’s unbelievable how big of a Georgia fan he is. So from a personality standpoint I don’t think any Georgia students will have any problems with him,” he said. “He’s quintessentially a southerner at heart. He’s really polite, really outgoing — just a really good person.”