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UC Alum Ronald L. Jackson II Returns to Campus as New McMicken Dean

The new dean of UC’s largest college, the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences, will be A&S graduate Ronald L. Jackson II, who returns to both his hometown and his home college in assuming this new role.

Date: 5/1/2012 12:00:00 AM
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Provided by Ronald Jackson

UC ingot   Cincinnati native Ronald L. Jackson, II,  who earned his baccalaureate and his master’s degrees from the University of Cincinnati’s McMicken College of Arts & Sciences, will be returning to his hometown and his home college when, pending approval from the UC Board of Trustees, he becomes dean of the college, effective July 1, 2012.
Ronald L. Jackson II
Ronald L. Jackson II

Jackson’s appointment was announced today by Santa Jeremy Ono, UC senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.  

Said Ono, “It is with great pleasure that we welcome Ronald Jackson back to the University of Cincinnati as dean of the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences. He excelled here as a student and has since excelled in his career within higher education. Just as he was an excellent student here at UC, bringing credit to his alma mater, he has likewise proven to be a gifted scholar. His professional accomplishments and vision for the college’s advancement are matched only by his passion and dedication for A&S and UC.”

In his new role as dean, Jackson will build upon the achievements of current dean, Valerie Hardcastle, who will return to the faculty as of June 30, 2012. A committee chaired by Louis Bilionis, dean of UC’s College of Law, led the national search for an A&S dean.

Jackson, currently professor of media and cinema studies and African American Studies, and past head of the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, stated, “What’s so exciting for me is that, as a former student who earned two A&S degrees, I will now have a role in further enhancing UC’s reputation and transformative mission. This is an especially important time as the university concludes its Proudly Cincinnati capital campaign and accelerates its progress toward achieving the goals set forth in UC2019, its strategic plan. I look forward to working with the president and provost, as well as the students, faculty and staff within A&S and across campus to facilitate a reach beyond our known limits as we achieve excellence. Alumni and community have a major part to play in our success, and I intend to call upon them as we move forward.”

He added, “A&S is obviously a pivotal college within the university, and the college and its faculty, staff and students are primed to push the boundaries of inquiry and education because of the broad range of disciplines and rich academic resources. As such, A&S has much to contribute to the university, the region, the state and even beyond to the national and international level.”

Jackson, originally from Greater Cincinnati where he lived throughout the area, from Clermont County to College Hill to Fairfield, first came to UC as a 15 year-old teenager participating in Upward Bound, a college-preparatory program.

After graduating Covington Latin School at age 15, he first entered UC’s then College of Business (now the Carl H. Lindner College of Business) to pursue a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management, but later switched majors, ultimately earning his UC baccalaureate degree in speech communication, followed by a master’s degree in organizational communication. He then went on to earn a doctorate in rhetoric/intercultural communication from Howard University.

In coming to UC as an undergraduate student, Jackson was following in his family’s footsteps. His father, Ronald Jackson, Sr., earned baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees in education at UC, and his mother, Sharon Prather, worked in UC’s financial aid office.

Jackson comes home to UC after having served as a faculty member at Shippensburg University, Pennsylvania State University, and, most recently, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Throughout his career, he has had leadership and research success in the field of communication.  

“I have developed my career around the core liberal arts education I received at UC. That education and my subsequent career have prepared me to be the socially conscious, global citizen that I am today.  There really is a tremendously important and foundational set of values related to human understanding, integrity, social justice and critical thinking that is mainly found on college campuses within a core liberal arts education.  That’s a powerfully significant role that the college of arts and sciences plays at UC,” he explained, adding that his service and research endeavors have been multidisciplinary, spanning the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities.

“My appreciation for the sciences related to the STEM fields, has only grown as I have increasingly made connections between lived communities, public policy and health disparities,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s scholarship has focused most recently on exploring the communication dimensions of prostate cancer prevention among African American men and on how different cultures around the globe define masculinity in locales as varied as Africa, the Middle East, South America, the Caribbean, North American and Australia. In fact, Jackson recently completed a book on the topic, “Culturing Manhood” (with Murali Balaji of Lincoln University) from University of Illinois Press, and has another entitled “Marginalized Masculinities” (with Jamie Moshin of Marietta College) with Routledge, due out in 2012. He has authored or edited 12 books (with two more forthcoming), five thematic issues, and over 60 essays in academic journals or books, and currently serves on 10 editorial boards for highly regarded journals in communications and African American Studies. He is presently editor of the internationally reputed journal Critical Studies in Media Communication. He has also taken on national leadership roles as president of the Eastern Communication Association and chair of the National Communication Association Finance Board.

However, after having directed or advised 45 masters and doctoral students, and taught thousands of undergraduate students, Jackson considers his teaching and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students as among his most significant accomplishments. In service to students, he has not only taught a variety of courses but has provided leadership in curricular reform, new program development, faculty-student research collaborations and student-focused industry initiatives and internships for professional development.

He credits his own focus on teaching and mentoring to the exceptional mentoring and instruction he received at both UC and Howard University. Jackson specifically credits UC staff and faculty – including Cynthia Berryman-Fink Judith Trent, Kenneth Ghee, all of A&S, Ken Simonson of CEAS, Eric Abercrumbie, director of both Ethnic Programs & Services and the African American Cultural and Research Center, as well as the late Linda Bates Parker, past director of the Career Development Center – for shaping him as a scholar and a student leader who founded two campus groups dedicated to helping students excel and make a difference in the world.

“Just as when I was a UC student, I plan to continue focusing on student excellence,” he stated, adding he would like to expand opportunities for students to study abroad and participate in interdisciplinary and cross-college research collaborations and experiential learning.

Upon his return to Cincinnati, Jackson will be joined by his wife Ricci Jackson and their two children, who they hope will carry on the family tradition and become the third generation to attend UC.