Regina LawrenceThe University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) has named Regina Lawrence as director of the George S. Turnbull Portland Center, effective July 20, 2015. She will join the SOJC this week, moderating the opening plenary session at the “What is Journalism?” conference on Friday, April 10.

Lawrence has served as the director of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at The University of Texas at Austin, where she also holds the Jesse H. Jones Centennial Chair in the School of Journalism, Moody College of Communication, since 2012.

“The future of journalism and the future of civic engagement are closely intertwined, although too often these are treated as separate endeavors,” Lawrence says.  “Helping journalism innovate across many genres and platforms to reach more people in new ways is vital to enriching civic life. I’m thrilled by the opportunity to help push that conversation forward, especially in the vibrant community of Portland.”

In her new role, Lawrence will lead the SOJC’s Turnbull Center in developing strategic and innovative interdisciplinary programs, community and industry outreach, alumni engagement, fundraising, student recruitment nationally and internationally, and partnerships.

An incubator for innovative ideas about the future of journalism and strategic communications, the Turnbull Center is a meeting place that inspires fresh thinking and pioneering practice among communication educators, students, researchers, practitioners and citizens. The Turnbull Center houses the Agora Journalism Center, the gathering place for innovation in communication and civic engagement; two graduate degree programs in multimedia journalism and strategic communication; the Northwest Scholastic Press and the Portland Senior Experience internship program.

“With her ties to the professional and civic communities and her extraordinary scholarly depth, Regina Lawrence is the perfect leader for this moment at the Turnbull and Agora centers,” says Julie Newton, interim Edwin L. Artzt Dean and SOJC professor. “She brings unique passion and vision for advancing journalism’s mission to engage the public and nourish democracy.”

Under her leadership, the Strauss Institute has become a multifaceted and rapidly growing center for research, education and community outreach, attracting new sources of financial support and moving the needle on civic engagement in Texas.

Lawrence holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Washington and has written books and numerous articles analyzing media coverage of high profile news events and policy issues, including the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, shootings in public schools, the obesity epidemic, welfare reform, and the “death panels” controversy. Her current research includes journalists’ use of social media to cover politics, media coverage of female political candidates, and film and politics.

Lawrence will replace Mike Fancher, who has served as interim director of the Agora Journalism Center since January 2014 and of the Turnbull Center since April 2014. Fancher, retired executive editor of The Seattle Times and a UO journalism graduate, said Lawrence is a perfect choice to lead the centers.

Story by Amy Pinkston