Schieffer School launches director search

    Boise State receiver Austin Pettis (87) catches a pass for a first down in front of TCU cornerback Rafael Priest (1) in the first quarter of the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, Calif. in December 2008. TCU defeated Boise State, 17-16. Photo by Ron Jenkins, Fort Worth Star-Telegram via MCT

    The founding director of the Schieffer School of Journalism said he will return in the spring to his first loves: writing and teaching.

    Tommy Thomason resigned as director in early March, and associate professor of journalism John Tisdale replaced him as interim director. Thomason has been teaching at TCU since 1984 and became interim chair of the journalism department in 1998 before becoming director in 1999. Thomason remained director when it was renamed the Schieffer School of Journalism in spring 2005.

    Thomason, who was attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver, said he will return after taking a sabbatical for the fall semester.

    “Teaching has always been my first love,” Thomason said. “I enjoyed being an administrator, but I didn’t come to TCU to be an administrator, I came to TCU to work with people.”

    Thomason said he will probably teach a senior-level class and a freshman class next spring. During his sabbatical, Thomason said he will help create the Texas Center for Community Journalism. He said the center will be on campus and will provide resources to smaller newspapers like the Fort Worth Weekly by offering consulting, seminars and help increasing their online presence.

    “The metropolitan dailies are in trouble in a lot of ways and the healthiest section in journalism right now is the small dailies and weekly newspapers who are actually thriving,” Thomason said.

    In the meantime, interim director John Tisdale is heading a six-member committee searching for Thomason’s permanent replacement.

    “We’ve become more aggressive in our recruiting,” Tisdale said, adding that the committee has spent thousands of dollars on advertising in academic and trade journals trying to attract applicants. The committee is made up of faculty and a former student and has received a several applications.

    So far, the list of candidates has been whittled down considerably, but none of them came from TCU, Tisdale said. Tisdale did not give an exact number of candidates or their names. When the short list of candidates come to campus, David Whillock, dean of the College of Communication, said he will meet with them.

    Whillock also said alumnus and CBS anchor Bob Schieffer is “very interested” in the search.

    “He’s not part of the committee, but we’ve been in touch with him about the type of individual, even names that are in this search,” Whillock said. “Because in reality, if he’s not excited about this person, it’s not going to work.”