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Larry Abramson

Larry Abramson

The University of Montana has named former National Public Radio correspondent Larry Abramson as the new dean of the School of Journalism, marking the first time in school history the dean will not have a newspaper background.

UM announced Abramson’s appointment late Wednesday, citing his work as NPR’s national correspondent covering education and national security.

He’ll replace interim dean Denise Dowling and is set to begin July 1.

“I’m thrilled we have Larry Abramson coming on board,” Dowling said Thursday. “It speaks to the caliber of the journalism school that we’re able to land someone with such incredible journalism credentials.”

Abramson began his career as a freelance reporter in San Francisco and joined NPR in 1985 as a production assistant with “Morning Edition.”

On NPR’s national desk, he served as the deputy science editor, covered national security in the wake of 9/11, and reported on education, focusing on for-profit universities and the role of technology in the classroom.

“It’s the first time ever we have a dean whose primary background isn’t in newspapers,” said Dowling. “I think that reflects the changing world of journalism. We’re quite excited to have a leader who comes from a different platform.”

Dowling has held the post as dean since Peggy Kuhr, the former dean, was hired by UM President Royce Engstrom in 2012 to serve in his Cabinet as the school’s vice president of integrated communications.

UM Provost Perry Brown said the university brought in three finalists for the job this spring. While each of the candidates was strong, Brown said, Abramson stood out.

“He stood out with his breadth of journalism experience and the fact that he’s an idea person,” Brown said. “He’s got a lot of ideas and passion – how we might be able to position ourselves well for this changing journalism environment as it unfolds. He’s thinking about what kind of graduates we need to prepare and how we’re going to do it.”

Abramson earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in comparative literature at the University of California-Berkeley, and attended Free University in Berlin and Trinity College in Dublin.

“He came out as a good fit for us, and a guy who thinks a lot about where we’re going,” Brown said.

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Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, or at martin.kidston@missoulian.com.

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