Leading researcher and academic administrator join Communication faculty

February 08, 2010

The School of Communication has hired D. Charles Whitney, Ph.D., and Ellen Wartella, Ph.D.

Long-time collaborators—they are married to each other, and are also co-editors and co-authors of texts and a number of articles and chapters in areas where their interests overlap—Whitney and Wartella put a lot of value on partnership.

"Wartella and Whitney are not only world-class scholars but also intellectual leaders," said Dean O'Keefe. "Their ability to work across disciplines makes them a great fit for Northwestern, and I am excited to work with both of them to build the next generation of programs in the School of Communication."

Charles Whitney has assumed the post of associate dean of faculty affairs, working closely with Dean Barbara O'Keefe on faculty development, including issues of recruitment and retention, promotion, and tenure.

He comes from the position of professor and department chair of the department of creative writing and professor of media and cultural studies at the University of California, Riverside. He has taught journalism and radio/television/film at the University of Texas, Austin; the University of California, Santa Barbara; and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is an associate editor of The Encyclopedia of Journalism (Sage Publications, 2009), a co-author (with Wartella and another) of Media Making: Mass Media in a Popular Culture (Sage Publications, 2006), and editor, with the School of Communication's James S. Ettema of AudienceMaking: How the Media Create the Audience (Sage Publications, 1994).

A former journalist with United Press International, Whitney sits on the editorial boards of several scholarly media and communication journals.

He is originally from Clemson, N.C., got his bachelor's in English at Clemson University, and his Ph.D. in mass communication at the University of Minnesota.

Ellen Wartella joins the faculty of the communication studies department. She is a leading scholar of the role of media in children's development. She comes from the position of distinguished professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. She is the former dean and a professor of radio/television/film at the College of Communication at the University of Texas, Austin, and before that taught communication at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Wartella sits on a number of national boards advising on the influence of media on children's health. Currently she is a co-principal investigator on a five-year multi-site research project looking at the effect of digital media on very young children funded by the National Research Foundation. She was a co-principal investigator on the National TV Violence Study (1995-1998) and a co-principal investigator of the Children's Digital Media Center project funded by the National Science Foundation (2001-2006). She is a co-editor of a number of books, including Children and Television: Fifty Years of Research (Erlbaum Associates, 2006).

Wartella is originally from Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She received her bachelor's in economics and communication from the University of Pittsburgh, and a master's and Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Minnesota.

The couple has two sons, David, 26, who works for Universal Studios in Los Angeles and Stephen, 22, who is a senior at the University of Arizona, Tuscon.

Whitney and Wartella's appointments to the School of Communication are effective April 1.

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