John Jackson Named Dean of Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication

John L. Jackson Jr. has been named dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, effective Jan. 1, 2019.

The announcement was made today by Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett. The selection follows an international search.

Jackson is currently dean of Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice, a position he has held since 2014. Michael Delli Carpini has agreed to extend his term as Annenberg dean until Dec. 31 to help ensure a seamless transition.

“John’s achievements as a scholar, teacher and academic leader are numerous and inspiring,” Gutmann said. “He is already well known and universally respected at Penn. As a dean and in his own scholarly work, John has consistently harnessed the power of diverse, interdisciplinary teams – and driven mutually beneficial collaborations between the liberal arts and the professions – to better understand and address society’s most timely and challenging questions.

“He has the experience, vision and collaborative spirit to help ensure Annenberg’s continued place among the world’s preeminent research and teaching programs in communication.”

Jackson is the Richard Perry University Professor, with appointments in the Annenberg School for Communication, School of Arts and Sciences and School of Social Policy & Practice.

“During his tenure as dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice,” Gutmann said, “John has exemplified our Penn Compact 2020 commitment to inclusion, innovation and impact.”

“John’s deep experience, superb judgement, high standards and broad support across our campus,” Pritchett said, “clearly position him as the best person to lead the Annenberg School, which in the years ahead will strengthen its leadership position in communication by blazing new trails in scholarship and education that advance theoretical and empirical understanding of communication in the broadest sense.”

Under Jackson’s leadership, the School of Social Policy & Practice is enrolling more diverse and more academically accomplished students, and the faculty’s research programs have never been stronger. He forged partnerships with the Graduate School of Education and the School of Nursing to spearhead The Penn Futures Project, which is improving the lives of young people and their families across Philadelphia. 

He has been a champion of innovative teaching and learning with a massive open online course that has allowed Penn faculty to reach students around the world. His “Future of Social Change” tour was a resounding success in reconnecting School of Social Policy & Practice alumni from across the nation with the School.

Jackson earlier served as the Annenberg School’s associate dean for undergraduate studies and associate dean for administration, as a senior advisor to the provost on diversity and as chair of the University Council Committee on Diversity and Equity. Beyond Penn, he has served as program chair for the American Anthropological Association’s annual conference and on the editorial boards of highly respected journals.

Jackson joined Penn in 2006 as the first Penn Integrates Knowledge, or PIK, University Professor, a program begun by Gutmann to recruit preeminent faculty to have appointments in at least two Penn schools.

A renowned cultural anthropologist, he has written and taught about racial- and class-based differences in contemporary urban life, how contemporary urban religions can be used to improve health literacy and health outcomes, the impact of mass media on urban life and the remaking of ethnic and racial diasporas. He has also critically explored how film and other non-traditional or multi-modal formats can be used in scholarly research projects and, with Annenberg School and other Penn colleagues, helped found CAMRA and PIVPE, two Penn-based initiatives organized around creating visual and performative research projects. 

As a filmmaker, Jackson has produced a feature-length fiction film, documentaries and shorts that have been screened at film festivals internationally.

Jackson earned a B.A. in communication summa cum laude from Howard University and received an M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D., with distinction, in anthropology from Columbia University. Prior to coming to Penn, he was a Junior Fellow in Harvard University’s Society of Fellows and a faculty member in Duke University’s Cultural Anthropology Department. In 2009, he served as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School.

Michael Delli Carpini has served as Annenberg School dean since 2003. 

“Michael’s outstanding leadership and unrivaled Penn citizenship have advanced the Annenberg School across every measure,” Gutmann said.

During his tenure, the faculty has grown in size, diversity and intellectual scope; scholarly and research programs have never been stronger; and Annenberg’s campus partnerships are fostering the integration of knowledge across traditional disciplinary boundaries.


John Jackson