Tim Gleason’s proudest accomplishment as dean of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication repeats itself every spring.
“Every June, there’s nothing quite like shaking the hands of … students who walked across the stage at commencement,” he said. “That’s the moment that you really realize why we’re here.”
After 16 years, this year’s graduation ceremony will be his last as the leader of the UO’s journalism school, as he is stepping down to take a sabbatical. Gleason has also been a member of the Emerald’s board of directors during part of this tenure.
Throughout these years, he has actualized dramatic changes within the SOJC, including the overhaul of the undergraduate curriculum to be increasingly digitized, the establishment of a program in which UO seniors can participate in a professional journalism experience in Portland and the recent revamp of Allen Hall.
“Deans create space where talented faculty and students do great work,” he said. “This is an amazing time in journalism. To be responsible for figuring out how to best train young students who want to be journalists is a daunting task at the moment. But at the same time, what I truly believe … is that two students sitting in the corner of Allen Hall are going to change the future of journalism.”
Although his original intent was to step down on June 30, he anticipates his time as dean might be extended a few months further due to a delay in the process of hiring a suitable replacement. In January, two candidates were entertained as finalists. However, according to Gleason, neither replacement was offered a position as the new dean, resulting in an extended search period. He is hopeful a replacement selection will be made by the end of spring term, a time frame that would allow SOJC faculty to participate in the interview process before they disperse for summer break.
He is not directly involved in the search for his replacement, but he hopes that the selection committee will decide on a candidate who will embrace the promise of the SOJC’s future.
“I just hope to see (the SOJC) continue to move forward,” he said. “I think the school’s in a really good position, and we’ll continue to grow and become stronger. I’m hoping for someone who’s going to come in and lead the school — and take it in good directions.”
Gleason plans on returning to the SOJC either in an administrative position or as professor specializing in communication law and ethics. Regardless of the details of his future employment, he can’t see himself working anywhere but the UO.
“I’ve been at the University of Oregon for 25 years — I’m committed,” he said. “I have no particular desire to go anywhere else. There have been any number of opportunities over the years that I have not pursued, and I don’t see myself pursuing them now.”
At the end of the day, it’s the impact he has made in the lives of the roughly 400 students who shake his hand at every June commencement that he believes counts the most.
“It is truly transformational,” he said. “You’ve been able to help people achieve a goal and begin to realize their vision for what they’re going to do with their lives. That’s just extraordinary to have the opportunity to do that.”