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Taking Charge

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Larry Gross, who spent 35 years teaching communication at the University of Pennsylvania, will join USC on July 1 as director of its School of Communication.

Gross is the Sol Worth Professor of Communication and deputy dean of the Ivy League university’s Annenberg School for Communication.

He will succeed Patricia Riley, who will remain a faculty member after completing her five-year term as director.

“Larry is a highly respected scholar as well as a talented and experienced academic leader and administrator,” said Geoffrey Cowan, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. “He has been a member of the Annenberg academic family for more than three decades, and we are delighted that he will be continuing that connection at the University of Southern California.”

The USC Annenberg School for Communication is home to two academic units: the School of Journalism, directed by Michael Parks, and the School of Communication, which Gross will direct.

“It was difficult to imagine leaving Penn after 35 years, but the opportunity to join the dynamic and forward-thinking program at USC was irresistible,” Gross said. “Just as the Annenberg School at Penn played a crucial role in creating the field of communications in the late 20th century, the Annenberg School at USC is already leading the field into the 21st century.”

Gross, who holds degrees from Brandeis University and Columbia University, became a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. A specialist in the areas of visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies.

He mentored a record number of students – more than 180 – through their theses and dissertations at the University of Pennsylvania, chaired the Faculty Senate and headed a number of university committees and other organizations.

From 1971 to 1991, Gross co-directed the roughly $1.5-million Cultural Indicators Project, which focused on television content and its influence on viewer attitudes and behavior.

Gross has written and edited several books covering a wide variety of issues in visual and cultural communication. He is the author of “Contested Closets: The Politics and Ethics of Outing” (University of Minnesota Press) and “Up From Invisibility: Lesbian, Gay Men and the Media in America” (Columbia University Press).

His editing credits include: “Communications Technology and Social Policy” (Wiley); “Studying Visual Communication” (University of Pennsylvania Press); “Image Ethics: The Moral Rights of Subjects in Photography, Film and Television” (Oxford University Press); and the “International Encyclopedia of Communications” (Oxford University Press).

He is also co-editor of the forthcoming book “Image Ethics in the Digital Age” (University of Minnesota Press).

Gross was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 1998 and received the International Communication Association’s Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award in 2001.

Riley, an organizational communication expert, will continue to teach undergraduate courses in organizational communication and graduate seminars in organizational change and new technology.

She is also a researcher in the USC Institute for Creative Technologies and an associate member of the USC Leadership Institute.

“I am thrilled to have Larry joining our faculty. He is very well known in the discipline as a prolific researcher and superb mentor,” Riley said. “I am convinced the school will prosper under his leadership.”

Cowan said that under Riley’s leadership, the Annenberg School recruited “outstanding scholars” to the faculty and launched a number of initiatives, including a joint degree program in global communication with the London School of Economics.

Contact Usha Sutliff at (213) 740-0252.

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