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Welcome from the Dean

Welcome from the Dean

Dear Incoming Student,

I am thrilled to welcome you, members of the Class of 2024, to our dynamic School of Communication. This letter for me signals an exciting “first”— my inaugural incoming-student letter as the SoC’s seventh dean.

I feel a certain kinship with each of you as we embark on this journey together. While I have been a faculty member in the School for the last 20 years, my deanship is new—as is the complicated reality of the coronavirus pandemic and the much-needed call to address and eradicate injustices that we’re all navigating together. Nevertheless, the School is already hard at work creating new programs, building upon existing successful initiatives, and continuously moving toward our goal of being more inclusive, representative, and supportive of students and your unique perspectives. I cannot wait to get started with you, my first class, right beside me.

After months of uncertainty, fear, anger, and disappointment, I have extraordinary hope for this year and all those to follow. Yes, 2020-21 will look different than what you had envisioned when you first visited campus or applied to the University. Yes, we will need to remain nimble in the event of unexpected changes to academics or their delivery. Yes, we’ll have to be vigilant in maintaining a safe, healthy learning and living environment. But what these challenges present is the opportunity to create, innovate, and excel in ways we never thought possible.

For our theatre, dance, and performance studies students, you will be tasked with creating and adapting works and ideas that will stretch your imaginations and allow you to rethink the traditional modes of embodied storytelling. Our radio/television/film students might find the importance of the written narrative coming into sharper focus, and with that a thrust into new filmmaking styles and techniques. Our communication studies students will be researching an unprecedented communication and media landscape and will help develop the blueprint for our recovery. And our human communication sciences majors may find that technology can increase patient access to interventions heretofore unavailable or inaccessible.

You will soon receive some communication from the undergraduate advising team regarding summer tasks, placement exams, fall course registration, and orientation. If you have any questions, please email us at

All of you and I are embarking on a great new adventure as a cohort of “first-year” students. Despite the challenges that lie ahead, I take comfort in knowing that we’ll be facing them together, with courage, dedication, and a fierce Wildcat spirit.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me or the associate deans and staff with any questions.

I look forward to meeting you in person—at a safe, masked distance—and launching our exciting Northwestern adventure.


E. Patrick Johnson
Dean of the School of Communication
Annenberg University Professor
Northwestern University