Loyola’s School of Communication Hires New Dean

Photo courtesy of Loyola University ChicagoHong Cheng, Ph.D, will take over the position as SOC dean, effective July 1. Cheng's hiring comes after an exploration period which took more than seven months.

Loyola’s School of Communication (SOC) has announced the hiring of a new dean for the 2019-20 academic year.

Hong Cheng, Ph.D, a 61-year-old Chinese native and the former director of the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), will become the school’s new dean effective July 1.

“I’m thrilled and honored by this opportunity,” Cheng said. “I cannot wait to join Loyola and especially the School of Communication community to work with everybody.”

Cheng will take over for acting dean John Slania, who has held the position since Aug. 1 after stepping in for former SOC dean Don Heider — the founding Dean of Loyola’s SOC.

Returning to his position as associate dean, Slania said he’s looking forward to Cheng’s arrival and to work alongside the scholar of international communication and mass media.

“I’m very excited. I think he’ll be a great dean,” Slania said. “He came in to the visit with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of energy and he seems like a real collaborative like dean that’s going to be a real team player.”

Cheng’s hiring is the product of an exploration period which lasted more than seven months. The search committee was comprised of SOC faculty and university staff members. The group spent the majority of the first semester interviewing and considering candidates before settling on three finalists.

Cheng and the other finalists met with several SOC students to discuss issues and concerns over the month of February before Cheng was eventually recommended by the committee to Loyola’s Office of the Provost and university’s president, Jo Ann Rooney.

“I really appreciated the opportunity to meet and interact with so many wonderful individuals,” Cheng said. “I’m deeply impressed by the students the faculty and the staff of this school and can’t wait to get started.”

Slania said Cheng’s substantial background in both academics and professional experience made him an ideal person to take on the leadership role of the SOC.

“What Hong brings to the table is that he’s got both academic and professional experience,” Slania said.  “He spent part of his career as a journalist, he spent time in advertising and public relations but then he became an academic, so he’s a great combination of professional and academic that is really what you want in a leader since we’ve got faculty on both sides.”

Cheng was a professor at Bradley University and Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism before joining VCU as an administrator. He said Loyola’s open position was a dream for him and he is looking forward to continuing his teaching career in Chicago.

“I was familiar with the outstanding reputation of Loyola and look forward to bringing the school to a higher level of excellence and prominence in the years to come,” Cheng said.

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