Jacqueline E. Sharkey, the administrator, educator and journalist who led the University of Arizona journalism program for 11 years and taught for 20 more, is returning to the faculty effective Aug 1. Associate Professor David Cuillier has been named interim director of the School of Journalism by J.P. Jones, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Sharkey’s return to the faculty to begin a year’s research leave comes after an excellent fifth-year review of her directorship and a request from the SBS dean that she sign up for another five-year term. Sharkey noted that she has been an administrator for more than a decade, “and I have been thinking for quite some time that this summer might be an ideal time for a transition,” she said. The school is ending another six-year accreditation cycle, and will have its 60th anniversary in the coming year.
Under Sharkey’s directorship, the department became a school. During the past six years, the school has increased the number of full-time faculty, reopened the graduate program, deepened its relationship with The New York Times, expanded the interdisciplinary International Journalism program, and established the interdisciplinary Science Journalism program.
“The school is a world-class journalism program, thanks to Jacqueline’s leadership and selfless dedication,” said Cuillier, who will assume the temporary director position while a search is conducted for a permanent head this fall. “Through her example and inspiration, we hope to continue providing students with an excellent education and producing top research while becoming more financially self-sufficient during these times of ongoing budget cuts.”
Sharkey’s professional journalism background includes covering the Iran-Contra scandal and reporting on insurgencies in Latin America. Her work won top awards from the Society of Professional Journalism and from Investigative Reporters and Editors, and was utilized in several congressional investigations. Sharkey joined the UA journalism faculty in 1975, teaching courses in introductory reporting, photography and publications layout and design. In 1980 she joined The Washington Post as a copy editor and taught part time at George Washington University. She returned to the UA in 1984, and during the next six years wrote a book about the Pentagon press restrictions on the press and won the Freedom Forum National Journalism Teacher of the Year award. She became the journalism program’s first female department head in 2001, after a year as acting head.
Michael Chihak, host of Arizona Public Media’s “Arizona Week,” believes the UA journalism program’s success is due in large part to Sharkey’s tenacity. “Through what can only be described as administrative door-to-door combat, Professor Sharkey gained precious ground for the program over the last half-dozen years, securing a professorship here, a major scholarship or other contribution there, slowly but surely building the program into the powerhouse that it is today.”
Interim director David Cuillier, who will be a candidate to become permanent director, joined the faculty in 2006. He earned his Ph.D. from Washington State University and entered the academy after a career as a reporter and editor at newspapers in the Pacific Northwest.
He has won national teaching awards from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, which also named him the most promising professor in the country. He also has won national awards for research excellence, including the prize for best dissertation in the country in the fields of journalism and mass communication.
Cuillier’s research involves press and public attitudes about freedom of information and government transparency. He has been the chair of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Freedom of Information Committee for the past four years, and has testified before Congress about U.S. government compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. In spring 2010, he drove 14,000 miles throughout the country on behalf of the Society of Professional Journalists tutoring newspaper reporters on how to use public records to strengthen their reporting.
Cuillier “has superb qualifications for this position,” Sharkey said. “With his academic and professional credentials, David is an ideal person to take over leadership of the school at this time. He has an outstanding national reputation as a researcher and teacher, and his expertise regarding freedom of information has been recognized by U.S. journalism organizations and policy makers.”