Gary R. Edgerton, professor and chair of Communication and Theatre Arts at Old Dominion University, has joined Butler University as the first permanent dean of the 2-year-old College of Communication.
“This is a rare opportunity to come in on nearly the ground floor to work closely with the communication faculty in building this new college into one of the signature units at the University,” Edgerton said.
Edgerton spent 18 years at Old Dominion, where he oversaw degree programs in communication, theatre and dance involving 24 full-time and 41 part-time faculty members. He taught at Bowling Green State University and Goucher College before joining Old Dominion.
At Butler, he is responsible for six degree programs involving more than 30 full-time faculty members.
“Butler blends a liberal arts perspective with a professional orientation,” he said. “That is something I’ve championed my whole career and I believe is uniquely suited to communication as a discipline. Moreover, Indianapolis provides a major metropolitan center with numerous opportunities for community involvement and cooperative ventures involving special events, curricular development in service learning, internships and mentorships, fund raising and alumni outreach, and much more. I am very much looking forward to joining Butler University.”
Butler interim Provost Kate Morris said Edgerton is an excellent match for the College of Communication.
“He brings to the position a wealth of experience as a professor, scholar and administrator,” Morris said. “There is a lot of momentum in our new College of Communication, and Dr. Edgerton is just the person to move it forward.”
Edgerton earned his Bachelor of Arts in English and History from the College of the Holy Cross in 1974, his Master of Arts in Communication in 1979 from the University of Massachusetts and his doctorate in communication in 1981, also from the University of Massachusetts.
As a scholar, Edgerton is credited with shaping the emergence and growth of comparative media and cultural studies during the last 30 years. His peers have called him a pioneer and cited his “scholarship of the first rank.” In June 2010, Edgerton was appointed Eminent Scholar by Old Dominion University’s Board of Visitors. In 2011, he received the University’s 27th Annual Research Award in Recognition of a Distinguished Scholarly Career.
He has published 10 books, including Mad Men: Dream Come True TV (2011), The Essential HBO Reader (2008) and Ken Burns’s America (2001). He was chosen by Columbia University Press to write The Columbia History of American Television, and in 2008 the book won the John G. Cawelti Book Award of the American Culture Association for Outstanding Scholarly Inquiry into American Cultural Studies. The book is now considered a classic. He also has two books in progress, The Sopranos and Conversations with Ken Burns, both due out in 2013.
Edgerton also has written more than 75 essays on an assortment of media and culture topics in a variety of books, scholarly journals and encyclopedias. In addition, he is the co-executive editor of the Journal of Popular Film and Television, has delivered more than 100 conference and keynote presentations, and averages two dozen commentaries a year since 1990 across a wide spectrum of international and national newspapers, magazines, television, radio and Internet outlets.
In 2004, he received the American Culture Association Governing Board Award for Outstanding Contributions to American Cultural Studies.
Edgerton takes over as dean from William Neher ‘66, who is retiring after serving on the Butler faculty since 1970. Neher has been interim dean since the College of Communication was founded in 2010.