The dean of the University of Missouri School of Journalism plans to retire in August after 25 years at the helm of the school. In a press release Thursday, MU said Dean Mills is currently the longest serving dean on the campus.
“I think those two numbers 2 and 5, set together – explain a lot. 25 years is a very long time to be a dean, even at a wonderful place like this and I think it’s just time for somebody else to step in with some new and different ideas,” Mills said.
After he retires effective August 31, Mills will work half-time as director of the Reynolds Fellow program at the Reynolds Journalism Institute. Mills says that will allow him to maintain contact at the school and on campus, directing the fellows working on innovative journalism projects.
“My job will be coordinating the work of those fellows, plugging them in to places on campus, either here at the school or around campus,” Mills said.
In the press release, MU Interim Provost Ken Dean wrote “We will greatly miss Dean Mills’ leadership. He has guided the School of Journalism through a rapidly changing landscape in the profession.”
Mills was inducted into the Missouri Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2012. Mills oversaw the school of journalism as it built or rebuilt four buildings, added eight endowed chairs, and as the newsrooms used as teaching labs for journalism students made the transition into digital formats. The Reynolds Journalism Institute was also launched during his tenure using private gifts and an endowment for RJI was created in 2012.
“It’s not false modesty, just accuracy to say I didn’t do anything myself, alone, we have a great faculty a great team of administrators both at the school and on campus so it’s all been a team effort,” Mills said.
Mills says the major challenge for his successor will be the same as most other administrators at MU.
“The challenge will be three things: money, money and money. With the continuing decline or at least flattening of state support and limited ability to raise tuition, finding a way to support quality in this school as in every part of campus is a huge challenge; and I can only see this getting bigger through the years,” Mills said.
According to the press release, MU is beginning its national search for Mills’ replacement. Mills says he will have no role in the process.