Lori Bergen, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, announced Wednesday she will be leaving Texas State to be dean of the College of Communication at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
Bergen’s departure will come in June. An interim director will taker her place while university officials seek a permanent replacement.
Bergen said she told Richard Cheatham, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication, about her decision to accept the position Monday.
“This all kind of happened quickly,” she said. “Once I knew I would be accepting the position I wanted to put on as much lead team for the School to find new director. I can tell you this is the best job a person could ever have.”
Bergen said the students are what she will miss most.
“The students here are special because they didn’t come here because it’s a place for the entitled and there’s no arrogance here,” she said. “Student here are students who are genuine and hard working and feel privileged to be here. I’ve never been so impressed by a group of students.”
Jaime Kilpatrick, mass communication graduate student, said she felt like her and Bergen had a co-worker relationship.
“She literally had an open door policy with me and I always felt very comfortable,” said Kilpatrick, who worked as Bergen’s graduate assistant. “I’m really sad to see her go because she’s had such an impact on me. I can’t say enough good things. Whoever they get to replace her will have high standards.”
Bergen said leaving Texas State was a difficult decision for her.
“There is a kind of push/pull of an opportunity coming to fruition that will take you away from a wonderful place,” Bergen said. “I’m excited to begin to be dean at a college similar to the College of Fine Arts and Communication at Texas State, but I’m sad to leave Texas State. Our School of Journalism and Mass Communication is filled with great students, faculty and staff … But you can only go to the prom with one boy.”
Kym Fox, senior lecturer in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said the search for a director can be “quite a lengthy process.” Fox said she does not expect Bergen’s absence to directly affect the students.
“I know the faculty will spend quite a bit of time searching for a new director,” Fox said. “It really can set the tone for your school. We ask much from our director.”
Tom Grimes, Bergen’s husband, will continue teaching at Texas State. She said he will be an adjunct professor at Marquette University and might teach classes there in the summer.
“He is a Texan,” Bergen said. “He loves being here as much as I do. My professional focus will obviously be somewhere else.”
Bergen came to Texas State as a faculty member in 1988 after getting her Ph.D. at Indiana University. She became director of the school in 2006.
“Several people have said to me, ‘well maybe you won’t stay there forever, come back to Texas State,’” Bergen said. “That’s certainly a door I hope will stay open because this is a great place and it’s a hard place to leave.”
Bergen said her primary goal while still at Texas State is to finish the re-accreditation process for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, which will conclude May 14 with a meeting in Portland Ore.
“Because we did so well with the site team visit typically means we can move forward with the confidence that re-accredidation will occur,” Bergen said.
She said her ties to Texas State are not being severed, but changing. Bergen said when she leaves for Milwaukee a picture of Old Main will be carried with her.