Ken Paulson Named MTSU Mass Comm Dean

Ken Paulson

Ken Paulson

Ken Paulson, president and chief executive officer of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, has been named dean of the College of Mass Communication at Middle Tennessee State University. He will assume leadership of the college on July 1, and will continue to write, speak and consult with the First Amendment Center on free expression issues. He is also a columnist on USA Today’s board of contributors.

Paulson led the First Amendment Center, an arm of the Freedom Forum, from 1997 to 2004, and again starting in 2010. He served as president of the Newseum, the interactive museum of news and journalism opened by the Freedom Forum in Washington, D.C., from 2009 to 2010.

Paulson was editor-in-chief of USA Today from 2004 to 2009, and helped found the venerable paper in 1982 before moving on to manage newsrooms across the country.

Paulson is active in the Nashville music community, serving as vice chair of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, a member of the Music City Music Council, and a Leadership Music board and executive committee member.

Paulson’s career includes hosting the Emmy-honored PBS television program Speaking Freely, and authoring “Freedom Sings,” a multimedia stage show that tours college campuses. He is also founder of 1 for All, an unprecedented national campaign on behalf of the First Amendment.

MTSU boasts the fifth-largest mass-communication college in the nation and is the only one that features departments of recording industry, journalism and electronic media communication. It also is home to the Center for Popular Music, which maintains a large research library and archive.

Paulson’s honors include the American Press Institute Lifetime Service Award and being named a fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists, the organization’s highest honor.

Paulson is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law and the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He has served as an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University and the Vanderbilt Law School.

At MTSU, he replaces dean Roy Moore, who will remain with the college as a professor.


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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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