New Jersey Alpha (Rutgers) Phi Jay Bernhardt has been appointed dean of the Moody College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin. He has served as interim dean of the college since Sept. 1, 2015.
The appointment will become effective March 1.
“Jay has an ambitious vision for the future of Moody and in the last six months has demonstrated himself to be a champion for excellence in the college,” said UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves. “He was the top choice for the deanship after a national search that yielded outstanding candidates.”
As interim dean, Bernhardt focused on building bridges within the college and across the campus with interdisciplinary courses and programs to prepare students for the communication industry that is rapidly changing. His vision for the college includes expanding innovative research and scholarship, strengthening and expanding cutting-edge professional and creative production, and facilitating growth through industry engagement and entrepreneurial opportunities.
“I am honored and excited to work with our talented faculty, staff, students, alumni and partners to help the Moody College realize our potential as the most respected, influential and innovative college of communication in the world,” said Bernhardt.
Bernhardt came to UT Austin in 2014 from the University of Florida to be the founding director of the Center for Health Communication. He holds the Walter Cronkite Regents Chair and the Everett D. Collier Centennial Chair in Communication at UT and is an adjunct professor at the Austin Regional Campus of The University of Texas School of Public Health.
From 2005 to 2010, Bernhardt directed the National Center for Health Marketing at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overseeing many of the CDC’s most important communication programs and scientific publications. Under his visionary leadership, the CDC significantly increased its emphasis on science-based health communication research and practice, including the innovative application of public and professional engagement using social networks, streaming media and mobile messaging.
Bernhardt serves on numerous national boards and is a member of six honor societies and four editorial boards. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his MPH and B.A. degrees from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
Roderick Hart preceded Bernhardt as dean, serving from 2004 to 2015. In a letter announcing the hire, Fenves thanked the dean search committee composed of UT Austin leadership, faculty members and students, and industry advisers for their work in recruiting and reviewing candidates.
“It’s rare you have the opportunity to see first hand how a candidate for a dean’s position will lead and manage a college,” said Jim Moroney III, publisher and chief executive officer of The Dallas Morning News and co-chair of the search committee. “We had that opportunity with Jay as the interim dean, and through this experience, it was clear to the committee and the president that he had earned the job and equally deserved it. He will be a great dean for the Moody College.”