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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

CCAS dean will choose new School of Media and Public Affairs director by fall

The School of Media and Public Affairs will have a new director before the beginning of the fall semester, the dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences said last week.

In April, the SMPA faculty voted unanimously to recommend professor Frank Sesno as the school’s next leader. CCAS Dean Peg Barratt – who must approve or deny the SMPA’s recommendation – said she has not made a decision yet and gave no exact time frame for her deliberations, but did say the school would have a director by the fall.

“I’m very flattered and I’m very honored by the recommendation from the faculty,” said Sesno, who has been at GW for three years. “I consider every member of the faculty incredibly accomplished, dedicated and talented, and I consider them friends. So I’ve got to live up to their expectations.”

Steven Livingston, professor and chair of the SMPA Director Nominating Committee, said he is excited about Sesno’s recommendation.

“It is a great pleasure to know that SMPA will be led by Frank Sesno,” Livingston said in an e-mail. “The Committee, the entire SMPA faculty and I personally are very pleased to know that he has agreed to become the next SMPA director.”

Livingston – who was joined on the nominating committee by SMPA professors Janet Steele and Al May – said Sesno was the resounding choice of nearly every member of the SMPA.

“We considered others who brought an amazing array of strengths,” Livingston said. “But we came to the conclusion that Frank Sesno was the best choice to lead SMPA at this time.”

It did not take long for Livingston and the rest of the committee to make their decision, Livingston said.

“Frank Sesno is a high-achiever with a vision for SMPA, an appreciation for the contributions that are made by all faculty members, whether they be historians, social scientists, policy analysts, or professional journalists,” Livingston said.

This year, Sesno co-hosted a forum at Lisner Auditorium with five former secretaries of state. He also organized Planet Forward, a national documentary series about the future of energy sources, which Livingston cited as part of his qualifications.

He added, “Political communication is changing rapidly with new technologies and new ways of affecting political outcomes. And needless to say, journalism is changing too. Frank Sesno understands this, as he has so ably demonstrated by his work with Planet Forward, his innovative project that combines public policy, media (new and old), and citizen involvement in exploring climate change.”

If Barratt approves his nomination, Sesno would replace current SMPA Director Lee Huebner, who announced earlier this month he would step down from his post when his three-year term expires in July.

Sesno, an Emmy Award-winning journalist and a former special correspondent for CNN, was in the running to become the director of the school in 2006.

Before coming to GW, Sesno served as the Washington bureau chief for CNN.

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