Eminent scholar funds to help propel KSU to forefront of new media scholarship

Kennesaw State University will receive $500‚000 from the Board of Regents of the University System…

Georgia (May 23, 2008) — Eminent scholar funds to help propel KSU to forefront of new media scholarship

Jeremy Craig


Kennesaw State University will receive $500‚000 from the Board of Regents of the University System…

Contact: Director of University Relations
Frances Weyand Harrison

Writer: Jeremy Craig‚ 770−423−6203 or jcraig19@kennesaw.edu

Eminent scholar funds to help propel KSU to forefront of new media scholarship
Communications professor Leonard Witt named to new eminent scholar post

KENNESAW‚ Ga. (May 23‚ 2008) — Kennesaw State University will receive $500‚000 from the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia to fund an eminent scholar in communications‚ thanks to Gov. Sonny Perdue’s approval of the state’s fiscal year 2009 budget last week. The funds will help propel KSU to the forefront of research in new media‚ blogging and citizen journalism.

State Sen. John Wiles of Cobb County initiated efforts to obtain the allocated funds via the Board of Regents’ highly successful “Eminent Scholar” program‚ which funds endowed professorships to attract high−caliber scholars to join the faculties of USG institutions. At KSU‚ a total of $1 million is required to endow an eminent scholar’s chair – with the KSU Foundation already holding funds sufficient to match the state−funded amount.

Kennesaw State was one of only two institutions in the state university system – the other being Georgia Southern University – to receive funding for eminent scholars in the fiscal year 2009 budget. Leonard Witt‚ who presently serves as the Robert D. Fowler Distinguished Chair in Communication at the university‚ is being named to Kennesaw State’s new eminent scholar post.

In addition to the $500‚000 in eminent scholar funds‚ KSU will receive an allocation of more than $92 million in state funding through the Board of Regents’ fiscal year 2009 budget‚ to support and enhance the operation of the state’s third−largest university.

“We are grateful to the Board of Regents and the governor – as well as to our state legislative delegation – for providing the funding for this important academic appointment‚” said KSU President Daniel S. Papp. “Professor Witt is contributing significantly to the scholarship of ‘new media‚’ which is becoming more important as it changes how news is gathered‚ distributed and discussed in our society.

“We are particularly indebted to state Sen. John Wiles‚ who personally assisted KSU in securing these funds‚” Papp added. “This support will allow professor Witt to continue his groundbreaking work exploring new media‚ blogs and citizen journalism in the

rapidly changing media landscape.”

As traditional media are evolving‚ and with ordinary citizens playing an increasing role in shaping the news‚ Witt’s work is advancing the concept of public journalism‚ where citizens are empowered and have a voice.

Through gatherings such as his 2007 and 2008 “SoCon Unconference‚” Witt has brought together journalists from traditional media with citizen journalists and bloggers so they can communicate with one another‚ instead of existing in distinct spheres.

A founder of PJNet.org‚ a citizen journalism clearinghouse‚ Witt also is participating in a trial run of a concept called “representative journalism‚” which envisions communities funding journalists to deliver local news via the Web. Partners in this endeavor include Chris Peck‚ editor of the Memphis (Tenn.) Commercial Appeal‚ and William Densmore‚ founder of the Media Giraffe at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The experiment is sponsored by the Harnisch Family Foundation.

Witt‚ who has taught at KSU since 2002‚ said the endowment will allow him to continue doing important work as the field of journalism evolves.

“This much−appreciated state funding will allow us to do even more important scholarly and applied work in the future‚” Witt said. “To be the first professor to hold this endowed chair at KSU and to have it evolve to eminent scholar status is an honor.

“The important funding that this position is receiving – both from the state and from the KSU Foundation – is allowing KSU’s department of communication and me to be agents of national change as we all work to reinvent journalism in the digital era.”


A member of the 35−unit University System of Georgia‚ Kennesaw State University is a comprehensive‚ residential institution with a growing student population of more than 20‚000 from 132 countries. The third−largest university in Georgia‚ Kennesaw State offers more than 60 graduate and undergraduate degrees‚ including new doctorates in education and business.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu