From Hong Kong to Texas and now Miami, Karin Gwinn Wilkins is bringing her global expertise to the School of Communication. She just became the SOC’s first female dean, succeeding Gregory Shepherd.
Wilkins has spent decades in the field of communication, specifically focusing on global engagement— her area of expertise.
Before coming to Miami, Wilkins worked at the University of Texas at Austin for 24 years. She was the associate dean for faculty and strategic initiative at the Moody College of Communication, where she founded the interdisciplinary degree program titled “Communication and Leadership.”
While at the University of Miami, Wilkins said she hopes to focus on the student body’s experiences by strengthening current programs and creating new opportunities. Specifically, she’s focused on building “experiential learning opportunities.”
“There are already great programs in the school, and that is something I want to make sure that any student who wants to do that, that we can find a way for that student to have those kinds of experiences,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins received her Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies from Bucknell University. During her undergraduate years, she also studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh and the American University in Cairo.
She then received her master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication before working at the Chinese University of Hong Kong for two years. At UT Austin, Wilkins was also the director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and chair of the Global Studies Bridging Disciplines Program from 2010 to 2015.
Now, she plans to bring her experience in global engagement to campus, a place she described as already having a lot of diversity.
“The multicultural and global aspects of the University of Miami, these are aspects that I think are truly appealing and beneficial to students that come here,” said Wilkins.
Overall, Wilkins said she is most excited to meet the UM community.
“As soon as I walked onto campus a few months ago, it was an incredibly warm and welcoming community,” she said. “So, what I am most excited about is getting to know the people within the school.”
Leonidas Bachas, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the search committee that selected Wilkins, said he and the search committee were “very impressed with her academic background, her inspirational presentation and her clear vision to move the School of Communication forward and to make an impact.”
“She has a remarkable, scholarly record with a global reach,” said Bachas. “She is thoughtful, entrepreneurial and a leader in the field of global communication.”
Alyse Lancaster, chair for the department of strategic communication, said she’s looking forward to seeing where Wilkins will take the SOC.
“Her particular experience and expertise in the field of international communication brings a much-needed frame of reference that she can further integrate into our school, and I’m excited to see what the future will bring under her leadership,” Lancaster said.