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Honoring the Leadership of Dean Gracie Lawson-Borders, PhD

  • Published Date:
  • Supporting Unit: Office of the President

Dear Howard University Community, 

I write this letter to announce that Gracie Lawson-Borders, PhD, dean of the Cathy Hughes School of Communications (CHSOC), will depart the position at the culmination of the 2023-2024 academic year. The University will promptly launch a national decanal search for the CHSOC. 

Dr. Lawson-Borders has served as the CHSOC dean since 2013. Under her leadership, it has continued to be at the forefront of communications education, receiving full reaccreditation twice through the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) and the Council on Academic Accreditation. Additionally, she has overseen the implementation of the Media, Journalism, and Film (MJFC) and Strategic, Legal, and Management Communication (SLMC) undergraduate departments, as well as the Communication, Culture, and Media Studies (CCMS) and Communication Sciences and Disorders (COSD) graduate departments. 

Furthermore, contributions to the CHSOC increased significantly during Dr. Lawson-Borders’ tenure as dean. In 2014, Linda Johnson Rice donated more than $2 million to launch the John H. Johnson Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship, supporting entrepreneurial efforts throughout the University. In 2020, Craig Newmark Philanthropies donated $2.5 million to support the journalism program. In 2021, the Knight Foundation invested $5 million to establish the Knight Chair in Race and Journalism, with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Nikole Hannah-Jones selected as the inaugural chair. An additional $20 million was pledged for Hannah-Jones to launch the Center for Journalism and Democracy, designed to focus on training and supporting aspiring journalists in acquiring the historical, analytical, and technical expertise needed for exemplary investigative reporting. The School of Communications was also named in honor of media pioneer Cathy Hughes during Lawson-Borders’ tenure. 

An ardent supporter of interdisciplinary collaboration, Dr. Lawson-Borders partnered with Dean Phylicia Rashad and the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts to secure a five-year, $1.5 million gift from Disney in support of the Disney Storytellers Fund for student creative projects. Lawson-Borders has also been integral in planning our new state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary academic building, the Center for Fine Arts and Communications, to house the CHSOC and the Boseman College of Fine Arts. With her guidance, the CHSOC moved from the CB Powell Building to the renovated Metropolitan High School building as planning and construction of the Center for Fine Arts and Communications proceeds.

Dr. Lawson-Borders will be named dean emeritus of the CHSOC as a result of her years of dedicated and outstanding service. Following a sabbatical year, Dr. Lawson-Borders will return to her faculty position as a full-time CHSOC professor. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Lawson-Borders for her excellent stewardship and acclaimed leadership of the CHSOC, and the many contributions she has made to the University, its students and graduates, and our global community. 


Excellence in Truth and Service,

Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA 
Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery