Willow Bay named director of USC journalism school

willow-bay-twitter.jpgThe hunt for a successor to Geneva Overholser as director of the School of Journalism at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism has landed on Willow Bay. For several years Bay has been senior editor of the Huffington Post Los Angeles operation, but her roots are in television news. She comes with the seal of approval from Wallis Annenberg, the USC trustee and major donor whose name is on the school's door and on a new building to open on campus in the fall. You may remember that last April, the job was offered to Northwestern University journalism professor Douglas Foster, who accepted then walked away from the job. Michael Parks has filled in as interim for the past year or so.

Here is today's flackage from USC, followed by Wilson's email to the faculty.

USC Annenberg Dean, Ernest J. Wilson III announced today that Willow Bay has been named director of the School of Journalism at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Bay is a highly skilled journalist, author, producer, digital news editor and national broadcast and global cable television news anchor. Her selection as director of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism follows a national search across the private sector and academia.

“The breadth of Willow Bay’s experiences, skills and talents is extraordinary,” said Dean Wilson. “Her leadership will help our innovative school aggressively continue our path of creating – and defining – the digital future.”

“I cannot think of a greater director for the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, or a greater model of what journalism can achieve in today’s world,” said Wallis Annenberg, chairman, president and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation, and USC Board of Trustees member.

Bay arrives at USC Annenberg from positions as senior editor, The Huffington Post, Los Angeles; and special correspondent and host, Bloomberg TV. Bay’s career spans start-ups and legacy enterprises alike.

Bay’s prominent broadcast experience includes co-anchoring ABC News’ Good Morning America/Sunday; co-anchoring CNN’s Moneyline News Hour; hosting, lead writing and producing CNN’s long-form program, Pinnacle; substitute anchoring on NBC’s Early Today and other MSNBC/NBC programs; co-hosting NBA Inside Stuff; and hosting, writing and executive producing the Lifetime Television documentary, Spotlight 25.

Bay is a highly sought-after moderator at key forums for thought leaders and has led panels with prominent politicians, philanthropists, athletes, cultural figures and CEOs such as Jeff Bezos (, Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo), Howard Schultz (Starbucks) and Larry Page (Google). Bay holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

"The professions of journalism and public relations are facing challenges and discovering opportunities in the face of rapid change and the development of new digital communication,” said Elizabeth Garrett, the university’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Assuming leadership of one of the preeminent schools of journalism at this crucial time, Willow Bay brings her long experience in various media forms, a keen intelligence and intellectual curiosity, and abundant energy to inspire students at all levels. Her appointment and the opening of the state-of-the-art Wallis Annenberg Hall at USC mark a moment of transformation for our School of Journalism."

“I’m honored to join Dean Wilson and the world-class faculty and staff at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, which has educated and inspired some of the most prestigious and talented professionals in the field,” said Bay, who will take the helm in July. “I’ve had the privilege of personally hiring and working with some outstanding Annenberg graduates at The Huffington Post. I look forward to leading the school as it educates and inspires the next generation of journalists and public relations professionals for the future and contributes groundbreaking academic research into these fields.”

Bay comes to USC Annenberg during an era of great imagination and invention. In recent years, for example, the school has opened the cutting-edge Annenberg Innovation Lab; launched the popular Media, Economics and Entrepreneurship initiative; experimented with wearable computing, augmented reality and 3-D printing; and emphasized creative collaborations across industries and disciplines. This includes expanded crossovers with the USC Annenberg School of Communication, which will have its own new director, Sarah Banet-Weiser, beginning this summer.

In Fall 2014, the School of Journalism will welcome its first cohort of nine-month Journalism M.S. students. This new degree will correspond with the grand opening of Wallis Annenberg Hall. This technologically transformative, 88,000-square-foot building located in the heart of the USC campus will feature a three-story media wall as well as professional-quality video, radio and vodcast studios and a digitally converged media center for the school's award-winning, student-run, online, broadcast television, documentary and radio news outlets and PR agency.

“We have a new building, a new program and a new era,” Dean Wilson said. “I’m thrilled that Willow Bay will be here to provide new leadership for our School of Journalism.”

Here is what Wislon sent to USC Annenberg faculty this morning:

Dear Colleagues –

I am delighted to let you know that Willow Bay has accepted the appointment to be the next director of the School of Journalism. Willow was energized by her visit to the school, and looks forward to further getting to know all of us. I know that you share my enthusiasm and will join me in welcoming and congratulating her as she becomes part of our USC Annenberg team.

Once again, I want to thank our dedicated search committee — Judy Muller, K.C. Cole, Burghardt Tenderich, Kjerstin Thorson, Robert Hernandez, and Beth Meyerowitz — for their excellent work throughout the entire process. I’d like to thank all of our terrific faculty and staff who gave so much of their own time so this could be such a successful search. And a very special thanks goes to Michael Parks for his service this year as Interim Director.

This from Twitter:

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