National Media Authority Heads Harrington School

Renee Hobbs, a national authority on media literacy education, took the helm of the new Harrington School of Communication and Media this winter. The school brings together departments and programs in journalism, film/media, communication studies, public relations, writing and rhetoric, and a graduate program in library and information science.

“Dr. Hobbs brings a comprehensive and innovative approach to this position, which is critical in today’s world because communication and information technologies are all about mind boggling change,” said former president and CEO of Thomson/Reuters Richard Harrington ’73, who with his wife, Jean, established the school with a $5.5 million gift.

“Renee Hobbs has the knowledge, the expertise, and the creative entrepreneurial ideas to develop a transformative educational model here at URI,” said Dean Winifred E. Brownell of the College of Arts and Sciences, the academic home of the school.

Hobbs established the Institute on Media Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the first national program of teacher professional development in media literacy in the United States.

Before joining URI, Hobbs was a professor of communications in Temple University’s Department of Broadcasting, Telecommunication, and Mass Media, and School of Communications and Theater. In Philadelphia, Hobbs developed Powerful Voices for Kids, a university-school partnership that offers a comprehensive digital and media literacy program for students in kindergarten through high school. This year, the American Library Association named her an Office of Information Technology Fellow.

“Communication schools can no longer be confined to narrow vocational disciplines if they want to serve students well,” said Hobbs, emphasizing that verbal and written expression will remain at the heart of the Harrington School. “We are going to create a new vision that means thinking about students as global communicators and citizens in a democracy.”