New dean to move School of Comm forward

University President Donna Shalala announced Monday the appointment of Dr. Sam L. Grogg as new Dean of the School of Communication. Dr. Grogg, who is Dean of the American Film Institute [AFI] in Los Angeles, Calif., will replace Edward J. Pfister, who has been dean of the school since its foundation in 1985.

“This was not an easy decision,” Shalala said. “I thought Dr. Grogg in particular was the type of person we wanted to lead the school in this decade, in this century.”

Dr. Grogg has been dean of AFI since 1998. Before that, he was the founding dean for the School of Filmmaking at the North Carolina School of the Arts. His extensive film background includes working as executive producer for New Symphony Pictures and Symphony Entertainment, as well as serving as president and CEO of other two production companies – one of which produced, financed and distributed the Academy Award-winning The Trip to Bountiful and Kiss of the Spider Woman. He has also written a variety of screenplays and articles for scholarly journals.

“Dr. Grogg joins the University with a vast experience in film and more broadly in communication,” said Provost Luis E. Glaser in a press release.

The new dean has said he is excited about working at the school but has not set projects yet.

“I don’t have a specific plan other than to listen to the faculty and students for the first few months,” Dr. Grogg said in a phone interview. “[During my visit] I thought the students were the strongest testimony for the strength of the program; I’m very excited by them and that’s where my priority lies.”

School of Communication professor Paul N. Lazarus has known Dr. Grogg for 25 years from the movie-producing business. As a member of the search committee for the new dean, it was Lazarus who brought forth Dr. Grogg’s name as a possible candidate.

“He’s a very good man to lead us to the next level,” Lazarus said. “It takes a pretty special person to direct the eclectic mix of scholars, professionals and artists here.”

Students that are part of the School of Communication’s Dean’s Dozen met Dr. Grogg at a luncheon during his visit to campus two weeks ago.

“I’m really excited about Sam Grogg being the new dean,” Rochelle Goetz, a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism, said. “I think he has a lot to offer coming from across the country, and he’ll be a great addition to the staff and will encourage more communication between faculty and students.”

Beni Yunis, a freshman majoring in print journalism, agreed.

“I thought he was approachable and easy to talk to,” she said. “He seemed really interested in getting to know the students.”

Dr. Grogg will be making regular visits to the school during the semester. He will move to Miami with his wife and 19-year-old son over the summer.

Patricia Mazzei can be contacted at