Joe Foote, Dean of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, will rejoin the faculty in August, resigning his administrative post as Dean after a decade as the college’s leader. Foote’s leadership tenure spans two-thirds of the lifetime of the young college that was elevated from school status in 2000 after a $22-million gift from the Edward L. Gaylord family.
In making the announcement, Foote, a 1971 broadcasting graduate, said, “Returning to OU during the magic of the Boren era has been a wonderful experience. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to lead this great college during a decade of impressive improvement and upward mobility and am fortunate to be surrounded by an exceptional group of students, faculty and staff. I’m now looking forward to taking some of the sideshows in my professional life and moving them into the main tent.”
OU President David L. Boren said, “It would be impossible for me to adequately express the appreciation of the entire OU family for Joe Foote’s outstanding service as Dean. He has unified the Gaylord College faculty, staff and students to pursue the highest possible standards. His goal has always been to bring the greatest possible educational experience to our students. I am grateful he has agreed to remain as a teacher in the college and as a leader of its international program.”
Since its founding, Gaylord College achieved triple-digit growth, raised its admission standards, began a Ph.D. program, created multiple opportunities for students, and increased its national standing. In March 2015, the Radio-Television Digital News Association ranked OU among the top 10 journalism and mass communication programs in the nation.
Known as a student-centered dean, Foote has been passionate about increasing professional opportunities for students on and off-campus. Foote founded the Gaylord Ambassadors program, an undergraduate leadership group that has become a model on campus. Foote led the college to create Lindsey+Asp, one of the nation’s premier student-led advertising and public relations agencies and “Sooner Sports Pad,” a live, weekly television broadcast to 10 million television households on Fox Sports Oklahoma and Fox Sports Southwest.
A national leader in journalism and education, Foote has been a key player in the university’s “digital initiative” and was an early advocate for innovation in courseware and alternative teaching modes. Under his leadership, Gaylord College was one of the first university programs in the nation to be designated as an “Apple Distinguished Program” for its innovation in the use of technology in education. Gaylord College has now received the Apple distinction in three consecutive competitions and is still the only major mass communication program in the nation to achieve that feat.
In his own teaching, Foote was the first professor on campus to develop an iBook and one of the first to launch a complete course on iTunesU. A priority of Foote’s when he returns to the faculty will be the development of new opportunities for digital student engagement.
Foote led Gaylord College on an ambitious program to provide students with the best facilities and technologies in the nation. Within three months of becoming dean and less than a year after the dedication of Phase I of Gaylord Hall in 2004, Foote initiated an effort to build Phase II. Within six months, President Boren raised $19 million for the new project. When Phase II opened in 2009, Gaylord Hall with its innovative “live, work, play” computer labs and its state-of-the-art broadcast technology was unsurpassed in higher education. The university complemented its investment in 2014 with a complete high-definition upgrade of broadcasting facilities.
As an OU graduate, Foote is passionate about creating stronger ties with alumni. He worked closely with key alumni to reconstitute, expand and diversify the college’s advisory board, now the Gaylord Board of Visitors, which is widely recognized as a campus leader for alumni engagement. Foote expanded alumni publications, both digital and print, and began a series of successful alumni gatherings around the nation.
A strong international advocate who has worked in South Asia for the past 30 years, Foote initiated a series of projects with the U.S. Department of State totaling more than $4 million in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Foote will now concentrate on several of these international projects—the largest being in Pakistan training Urdu-speaking journalists and expanding a mass communication department at the University of Gujrat. Foote also will continue to teach his British Media study abroad course, now in its 29th year, that has provided a unique cultural experience for more than 400 students.
Another major responsibility of Foote’s will be his chairmanship of the World Journalism Education Congress that was founded under his leadership in 2001 when he was President of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. The World Journalism Education Congress has now grown to 32 national and regional journalism education associations that gather for a global conference every three years. Their next meeting will be in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2016.
Foote returned to OU in 2004 after serving as Director of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and founding dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He also taught at Cornell University and for a brief time (1979-80) was manager of KGOU.
Before entering university teaching and administration, Foote served as a broadcast journalist in Oklahoma and Washington, D.C.,; Press Secretary to Speaker of the House Carl Albert; and Chief of Staff to Congressman Dave McCurdy.