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Aug 29th

U names Catherine Squires professor of journalism, diversity and equality

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The appointment of Catherine Squires as the inaugural John and Elizabeth Bates Cowles Professor of Journalism, Diversity and Equality will provide a new voice to enhance the discussion about diversity. This professorship is made possible through a College of Liberal Arts (CLA) Planning Compact and the generous longstanding endowment made to the SJMC by the Cowles family. Catherine Squires. Photo by Tim Rummelhoff

Five scholars will be welcomed to campus this fall to help keep the discussion about diversity meaningful and relevant. For one of these scholars, Murphy Hall, which houses the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, will be home.

The appointment of Catherine Squires as the inaugural John and Elizabeth Bates Cowles Professor of Journalism, Diversity and Equality will provide a new voice to enhance the discussion about diversity. This professorship is made possible through a College of Liberal Arts (CLA) Planning Compact and the generous longstanding endowment made to the SJMC by the Cowles family.

CLA received more than twenty proposals in a competitive process to determine where the diversity scholars would be placed. The new positions, which are scattered across the social sciences, humanities and the arts, are designed to attract scholars with research and teaching interests in diversity and/or equality. The overarching goal is to develop excellence and competency in building and sustaining diversity as recommended by the University's Task Force on Diversity.

Squires says that it is the first job description she had seen in a long time that was "exactly" what she wanted to do. "When I learned about the resources of the endowment, about how the professorship was created through a competitive process and that the entire SJMC was behind the position, it was very exciting for me," she said during a brief June visit to the SJMC amid house-hunting appointments. "To see the entire University making this push for diversity was very heartening for me. I felt strongly that it was something I could throw my energy behind."

Al Tims, director of the SJMC, agrees that the opportunity is unique and will enhance the work of the School. "For Murphy Hall to be the home of one of these diversity positions is exciting," Tims says. "The addition of this professorship will directly enhance the strategic plan of the SJMC and the University overall to build the nation's pre-eminent program in communication education, research and practice. This enhances our ability to provide students the best possible academic and professional education for their entry into diverse careers in the rapidly changing communications industry."

Squires comes to the SJMC from the University of Michigan, where she held a joint appointment as an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies and The Center for Afro-American and African Studies. She has published numerous articles in such journals as Communication Theory, Critical Studies in Media Communication and the Harvard International Journal of Press and Politics exploring black women's studies, African-American youth culture and issues of race/ethnicity, class and gender-inclusive research.

Squires has contributed to several books and authored two of her own. Her most recent, "Dispatches from the Color Line: The Press and Multiracial America," compares African-American, Asian- American and white-dominant news reports on people of multiracial descent. It also explores controversies surrounding the new race and ethnicity categories included on the 2000 Census. The book will be available in selected stores and online this summer.

A second book, "Agents of Change: African American Experiences with Mass Media," chronicles the strained and tenuous relationships that African-Americans have had with mass media, and is currently in production.

Squires originally started down the road toward international politics. She attended a small college in Los Angeles that offered a strong international relations program with thoughts of working in the Foreign Service. World events intervened, however, and began to influence her direction.

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