Richard Cole served as dean of the UNC School of Media and Journalism for 26 years, from 1979-2005. He led a strong faculty in moving the school into national rankings — frequently in the top five journalism-mass communication programs. Cole also led the school to increased international prestige through programs in Eastern Europe, Russia, Mexico, Cuba and Africa.

Cole directs the school’s Visiting International Scholars program. An eminent professorship in the school is named for Cole, as is a research assistantship and a scholarship for high school students. He is on the national Board of Directors of Lee Enterprises Inc., which owns 52 newspapers and other media holdings.

Cole is a member of the N.C. Journalism Hall of Fame and UNC’s Order of the Golden Fleece, and is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the UNC General Alumni Association. He also is a recipient of North Carolina’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which was conferred by the governor. In 2004, he received the Earl Gluck Distinguished Service Award from the N.C. Association of Broadcasters. He holds a University-wide teaching excellence award at UNC.

In 1992, Cole received the Freedom Forum Medal for Distinguished Accomplishments in Journalism-Mass Communication Administration. The award, given for lifetime achievement, had been given only three times previously. Cole, at 50, was the youngest person to have received it.

Cole was national president of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) in l982-83. He was national president of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication (ASJMC) in l986-87. For l0 years, he was book-review editor or co-editor of Journalism Quarterly.

He has been a member of many national and international boards, task forces and the like. He chaired the Freedom Forum's national Scholarship Committee for years and was a member and then chair of the national Steering Committee of the Hearst Foundation's journalism awards program in 1981 to 2005. He still serves as a national adviser to the awards program.

He was vice president of the national Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) in 1987-95. He chaired or was a member of national accrediting teams to more than 60 mass-communication schools across the United States, one of the few educators to visit so many.

He has been a consultant to several state governments in the United States and more than 30 universities in the United States, Mexico, China, Puerto Rico, Russia, Cuba, Chile and the United Arab Emirates. For eight years, he was a vice president of the worldwide International Association for Mass Communication Research (IAMCR). He also served as chief judge of the H.L. Mencken Writing Award for eight years.

He is editor of the book “Communication in Latin America: Journalism, Mass Media and Society (1996), the co-author of a book and the author of articles in Journalism Quarterly, Gazette: The International Journal for Mass Communication Studies, American Behavioral Scientist, Journalism Educator and other scholarly publications. He has concentrated on research in three areas: international communication, concerns of professional journalists and education for journalism-mass communication. He is listed in Who's Who in America and Who’s Who in the World.

He received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin in 1964 and his master’s in mass communication from that university in 1966. He received his Ph.D. in mass communication research from the University of Minnesota in 1971.


  • Ph.D., University of Minnesota
  • M.A., University of Texas
  • B.A., University of Texas